UPDATE – Turkey observes 19th anniversary of Marmara earthquake


By Kerem Alperen Kaya and Semra Orkan

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey on Thursday honored the people lost in the Marmara earthquake that hit northwestern Anatolia on Aug. 17, 1999, costing some 17,000 lives.

Public officials, NGOs, and crowds of people came together early in the morning in commemoration of the tragedy’s 19th anniversary in Istanbul, Sakarya, Yalova and Golcuk, the epicenter of the 7.4 quake.

Wreaths and flowers were placed on the Golcuk memorial built on the rubble of destroyed buildings. People stood in silence in respect for the fallen with processions continuing well into the night.

Turkish officials offered their prayers to the people lost.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remembered the victims of the deadly earthquake in a Twitter message, wishing God’s mercy upon them.

“We will continue to take the necessary measures to assure the safety of life and property of our people against this kind of disasters,” Erdogan tweeted.

“The shortest night, the longest grief. We commemorate the lives we lost in the Aug. 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake. May Allah forever withhold such pain from our cherished nation,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Causoglu said in a tweet early on Friday.

The Turkish General Staff also offered its condolences: “We pray for our people who lost their lives and martyrs who died in service during the Marmara earthquake on Aug. 17, 1999, and offer forbearance and condolences to their grieving families. May they rest in peace.”

Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin tweeted, “I offer my condolences to those who lost their lives in the Aug. 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake. May God forever withhold from us such pain. Precautions are being taken against earthquakes. Faulty settlements are not only a matter of regulation, but also of social awareness.”

According to a 2010 parliamentary investigation commission report, 17,480 people died in the quake, and around 45,000 were injured.

Of quakes that occurred between 1900 and 2009, the Marmara earthquake caused the sixth-largest economic losses — an estimated $20 billion — according to the Emergency Events Database’s website.