Third World Planning Review

The Turkish earthquake: an end to the 'neo-liberal state'?

Third World Planning Review (1999), 21, (4), 3

Abstract

TWPR, 21 (4) 1999 H. TARII< ~ENGDL Viewpoint The Turkish earthquake: An end to the 'neo-liberal state'? Turkey has periodically experienced earthquakes throughout its territory-one of the most risky earthquake zones of the world. Indeed, it is estimated that 85 per cent of the country is designated as being at risk, and the North Anatolian fault that stretches from east to west across the country produces roughly every five years earthquakes stronger than 6.5 on the Richter Scale. For this reason, the earthquake in the early morning of 17 August 1999 hardly came as a surprise. This event proved to be more dramatic than any previous one. Measuring 7.4, this was a massive schism, in which land moved almost 3 metres in certain parts of the Marmara Region. This was also one of the most severe quakes Turkey had experienced in terms of fatalities. While the government finally declared the death toll to be about 16,000, the United Nations estimates about 30,000 to 35,000. Injuries totalled 45,000, while 250,000 people were left homeless. The human consequences of the disaster are not limited to the loss of lives. Thousands of people, many living in tents months afterwards, remain in a state of intense shock, mourning for lost families, relatives and friends. According to experts, not less than half of the survivors will have to live with severe Psychological problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder. The manifestations are already clear. The scale of the disaster was great in economic terms too. The earthquake has caused a serious setback to Turkey's economy, as the industrial cities in the affected region produced more than one-third of the country's total output. Some of the cities were hit so badly that their relocation appears a more viable Strategy to the authorities rather than their rehabilitation. At least two important criticisms have emerged in the wake of the earthquake; they seem to have important implications for the future of the political system. The first one is directed at the state for its failure to respond to the earthquake H. Tank Sengul is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Middle East Technical University, 06531, Ankara, Turkey. iii Copyright © 2010 ProOuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press.

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Sengül, H. Tarik