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26 October 2011

After Turkey's Earthquake: When Will the World Wise Up About Natural Disasters?

Rescue workers walk past damaged buildings in Ercis, near the city of Van, Turkey, October 24, 2011. Caner Ozkan / Reuters

The earthquake that tore through eastern Turkey on Oct. 23 was as inevitable as it was shocking. It was inevitable because Turkey lies in one of the world's most active seismic zones, crossed by numerous fault lines. As much as in Northern California or Japan, earthquakes are a fact of geological life in Turkey. But it was shocking because so many people — at least 279, many in the city of Ercis — died in the 7.2 temblor. It was a strong quake, but hardly a monster like the 9.0-scale disaster that hit northern Japan this spring. Yet scores of multistory buildings simply collapsed when the latest quake hit, burying hundreds of Turks.