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1999 İzmit earthquake

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1999 İzmit earthquake

1999 Izmit earthquake
Damage from the Izmit earthquake
Date 17 August 1999 (1999-08-17)
Origin time 00:02 UTC
Magnitude 7.4 Mw [1] 7.5 Mw[2]
Depth 17 km (11 mi)
Epicenter 40.702ºN 29.987ºE [3]
Areas affected Turkey
Casualties 17,127 dead, 43,953 injured (official Turkish estimate)

The 1999 İzmit earthquake (also known as the Kocaeli or Gölcük earthquake) occurred with a moment magnitude of 7.4 that struck northwestern Turkey on 17 August at about 3:02 a.m. local time.[1] The event lasted for 37 seconds,[1] killing around 17,000 people[4] and leaving approximately half a million people homeless. The nearby city of Izmit was very badly damaged.

Damage and casualties

Damage from the Izmit earthquake

An official Turkish estimate of October 19, 1999, placed the toll at 17,127 killed and 43,959 injured, but many sources suggest the actual figure may have been closer to 45,000 dead and a similar number injured.[4] Reports from September 1999 show that 120,000 poorly engineered houses were damaged beyond repair, 30,000 houses were heavily damaged, 2,000 other buildings collapsed and 4,000 other buildings were heavily damaged. 300,000 people were left homeless after the earthquake. The estimated amount of damage is equivalent to 23 billion dollars (USD)

The earthquake was heavily felt in this industrialized and densely populated urban area of the country, including oil refineries, several automotive plants, and the Turkish navy headquarters and arsenal in Gölcük, increasing the severity of the loss of life and property. The earthquake also caused considerable damage in Istanbul, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) away from the earthquake's epicenter.[5]

There was extensive damage to several bridges and other structures on the Trans-European Motorway (European route E80), including 20 viaducts, 5 tunnels, and some overpasses. Damage ranged from spalling concrete to total deck collapse.[6]

The quake sparked a disastrous fire at the Tüpraş petroleum refinery. The fire began at a state-owned tank farm and was initiated by naphtha that had sloshed out of a holding tank. Breakage in water pipelines, results of the quake, nullified attempts at extinguishing the fire. Aircraft were called in to douse the flames with foam. The fire spread over the next few days, warranting the evacuation of the area within three miles of the refinery. The fire was declared under control five days later after claiming at least seventeen tanks and untold amounts of complex piping.[7]


The Izmit earthquake had a rupture length of 150 kilometers (93 mi) extending from the city of Düzce all the way into the Sea of Marmara along the Gulf of İzmit. Offsets along the rupture were as large as 5.7 meters (18.7 ft).[8]

The earthquake occurred along the western portion of the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ). The Anatolian Plate, which consists primarily of Turkey, is being pushed west about 2–2.5 cm (0.8–1.0 in) a year, as it is squeezed between the Eurasian Plate to the north and the Arabian Plate to the south.[9] Major earthquakes in Turkey result mainly from slip along the NAFZ or the East Anatolian Fault.

The earthquake caused a tsunami in the Sea of Marmara that was about 2.5 meters high.[10]

Destruction in Istanbul was concentrated in the Avcılar district to the west of the city. Avcılar was built on relatively weak ground mainly composed of poorly consolidated Cenozoic sedimentary rocks, which makes this district vulnerable to any earthquake.[11]

International response

ShakeMap showing the intensity of the Izmit earthquake

A massive international response was mounted to assist in digging for survivors and assisting the wounded and homeless. Rescue teams were dispatched within 24–48 hours of the disaster, and the assistance to the survivors was channeled through NGOs and the Red Crescent.

The following table shows the breakdown of rescue teams by country in the affected locations:

Location Search and Rescue Teams From:
Gölcük, Kocaeli Hungary, Israel, France, South Korea, Belgium, Russia
Yalova Germany, Hungary, Israel, Poland,[12] United Kingdom, France, Austria, Romania, South Korea
Avcılar, Istanbul Germany, Greece
İzmit, Kocaeli Russia, Hungary, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Iceland, South Korea
Sakarya Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Egypt
Düzce Poland,[12] United Kingdom
Bayrampasa, Istanbul Italy
Kartal, Istanbul Azerbaijan

Search and Rescue Effort as of August 19, 1999. Source: USAID[13]

In total, rescue teams from twelve countries assisted in the rescue effort. The U.K announced an immediate grant of £50,000 to help the Turkish Red Crescent, while the International Red Cross and Red Crescent pledged £4.5 million to help victims. Blankets, medical supplies and food were flown from Stansted airport. Engineers from Thames Water went to help restore water supplies. India also assisted by providing 32,000 tents and 2 million rupees to help in the reconstruction process.

US President Bill Clinton[14] and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later visited Istanbul and İzmit to examine the level of destruction and meet with the survivors.


  1. ^ a b c NEIC Izmit earthquake page
  2. ^ Turkish National Earthquake Research Station's Database
  3. ^ "17 August 1999 Kocaeli Earthquake". The European Association for Earthquake Engineering. Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Marza, Vasile I. (2004). "On the death toll of the 1999 Izmit (Turkey) major earthquake". ESC General Assembly Papers, Potsdam: European Seismological Commission. Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2008. 
  5. ^ A. Barka, "The 17 August 1999 Izmit Earthquake", Science, 285 (17 September 1999), pp. 1858–1859.
  6. ^ Lusas software, "Seismic Assessment of the Mustafa Inan Viaduct"
  7. ^ Scawthorn, Eidinger, Schiff, ed. (2005). Fire Following Earthquake. Reston, VA: ASCE, NFPA.  
  8. ^ Reilinger, R.E.; Ergintav S., Bürgmann R., McClusky S., Lenk O., Barka A., Gurkan O., Hearn L., Feigl K.L., Cakmak R., Aktug B., Ozener H. & Töksoz M.N. (2000). "Coseismic and Postseismic Fault Slip for the 17 August 1999, M = 7.5, Izmit, Turkey Earthquake". Science 289: 1519–1524.  
  9. ^ USGS (June 18, 2012). "Tectonic summary". Historic Earthquakes Magnitude 7.6 TURKEY 1999 August 17 00:01:39 UTC. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Ergin, M.; Özalaybey S., Aktar A. & Yalçin M.N. (2004). "Site amplification at Avcılar, Istanbul". Tectonophysics 391.  
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ Tang, Alex K. (2000). Izmit (Kocaeli), Turkey, earthquake of August 17, 1999 including Duzce Earthquake of November 12, 1999 Lifeline Performance. Technical Council of Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Monograph No. 17. Reston, VA : American Society of Civil Engineers, 2000. p. 259.  
  14. ^ Bill Clinton visits İzmit,Turkey

External links

  • Initial Geotechnical Observations of the August 17, 1999, Izmit Earthquake – National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering
  • 1999 Izmit, Turkey Earthquake – United States Geological Survey
  • New Directions in Seismic Hazard Assessment through Focused Earth Observation in the Marmara Supersite

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