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There is no reason to worry about an earthquake in Greece similar to the one in Turkey, said Mr. Konstantinos Synolakis, academic, president of the National Committee for Climate Change. He also described the situation in Turkey as difficult and distressing while stating that scientists expect more than 100,000 dead.

“It is whispered to the scientists and engineers that it will exceed 100,000, but this is a whisper,” he said characteristically, speaking to ERT.

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Will there be a big earthquake in Greece?

“Indeed, very large earthquakes occur in the Greek arc, which is a seismic zone that starts south from Rhodes, passes south from Crete, west from the Peloponnese and reaches the Adriatic. This is an undersea seismic zone that we know has had earthquakes as large as 8.5 in the past. There is no reason to worry. It is something that exists. It is in the geological history of Greece. Estimates are that such earthquakes happen every 600 or 800 years, and just saying that we should be afraid to worry is something that we just have to be aware of and prepare for. But there have been very large earthquakes in the Greek area. I remind you that in 1956 there was a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Amorgos that created a very large tsunami. Another underwater earthquake. We don’t know of earthquakes so big that they are inside the mainland.”

What have the great earthquakes in Greece taught us and how prepared are we?

“It was a test for civilian protection. Geological history is tens or hundreds of millions of years old. Right now you see some relatively small earthquakes happening in Greece, almost once a year. When such an earthquake occurs it gives us information about the local about the local fault and it is also an exercise of civil protection and all of us, so that we can be more prepared in case of a bigger earthquake. But we cannot say that we learn so much from a single small event. We learn a lot more from a very big earthquake.”

“In Greece we have a very good and world-class anti-earthquake regulation”

“I just came back from Turkey and it’s obvious and I’ve been saying this from the beginning that in too many buildings it’s not obvious that they haven’t followed the earthquake code and the construction, even the quality of the cement is not what you would expect. But you don’t need to be an expert to understand that the anti-seismic regulation they have in Turkey could not have foreseen the kind of structures that collapsed. Constructions in Turkey are different from ours. And ours are made of concrete but we don’t have the kind of tall buildings. So we were spared having the 10-story or 13-story buildings that seem to have been built in Turkey at a time when I don’t know if their building regulations and their earthquake code could have predicted at that time the kind of disaster that happened. The reality is that in Greece we have a very good and world-class anti-seismic regulation”.

Finally he emphasized that at some point an exercise should be done and not only on paper, to take the plans of an old building and see how it would withstand an earthquake if it had been designed then or how differently it would be designed now. “Let’s look at some old buildings and see their design and how they hold up in a modern earthquake.”