John Wheeler: The horrific number of deaths from the recent earthquake in Turkey is not a surprise
In 1999, an earthquake of similar magnitude in Turkey resulted in 17,000 deaths.
FARGO — An earthquake fault is where two areas of Earth's rocky crust, both floating on an underground sea of magma, are being forced to move in different directions. Instead of a smooth motion, the two rocky sections are bound by friction until something slips, causing the ground to move. The horrific number of deaths from the recent earthquake in Turkey is not a surprise.
Earthquakes are rather common in this part of the world because of several major fault lines and because so many people in Turkey and Syria live in unreinforced brick buildings, which tend to crumble in major earthquakes. In 1999, an earthquake of similar magnitude in Turkey resulted in 17,000 deaths. Since then, Turkey has enforced better building codes on new construction, but older buildings remain as they were. The situation in Syria is even worse, because years of war have further degraded so many structures.