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BPC’s Nick Danforth: Istanbul’s biggest threat doesn’t come from terrorists

The Washington Post

Monday, January 9, 2017

In Istanbul, you’re still more likely to die in an earthquake than in a terrorist attack.

It’s a sobering thought for visitors and residents alike given all that has recently happened in the city. The Islamic State’s New Year’s Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub came on the heels of a series of brutal bombings over the past year. The attacks have left Turkish citizens deeply shaken and tourists increasingly hesitant to visit one of the greatest cities on earth.

The attacks have left Turkish citizens deeply shaken.

But seismologists say a devastating earthquake in Istanbul remains an even greater danger. Even if it’s become a cliche that high-profile terrorism distracts us from more statistically significant threats, the disparity in Istanbul’s case is striking.

The city sits on an active fault line, and the rapid urbanization of the past 50 years means that millions of Istanbul residents live in hastily and cheaply constructed apartment buildings. Though estimates differ widely, many experts have warned that Istanbul has at least a 50 percent chance of suffering a massive earthquake in the next two decades. Given the city’s housing stock, a quake could kill over 50,000 people and leave another 500,000 without homes.