Seismology experts say that Istanbul, a city of 15m people, falls short in its preparations for a large earthquake.
This is despite the fact that regulations have become stricter and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has been established since the 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit—around 100 km east of Istanbul in August 1999, killing more than 18,000 people, reported Deutsche Welle.
In Istanbul, there are around 1.6m buildings, around half of which were constructed illegally and without proper engineering services, according to the Chamber of City Planners.
According to AFAD estimates, an earthquake in Istanbul could kill nearly 30,000 people, injure 50,000 others, destroy 44,800 buildings and leave 2.6m people homeless.
However, the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects calculates that 140,000 to 600,000 people could be killed and more than 1m families left homeless.
In Istanbul, many urban renewal projects targeted valuable land where high-rises, luxury housing and shopping centres sprouted up, while poorer and higher risk areas were neglected.
In a statement last month, the 20th anniversary of the Izmit quake, the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects said the government had abandoned earthquake preparedness in the name of profit.
As part of a pre-election strategy, the government issued an amnesty last year for unregulated construction work that brought in $3bn in extra tax revenue. Hundreds of thousands of illegal buildings were registered.