An aerial view of members of El Salvador's Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) during rescue operations in Sehit Aileleri, Kahramanmara, Turkey on February 12, 2023. (Photo by Handout / various sources / AFP) LEHTIKUVA

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Rescuers pulled out more survivors, including a pregnant woman and two children, six days after a pair of earthquakes collapsed thousands of buildings in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6. However, the death toll from the quakes continued to rise, with officials reporting 33,179 fatalities on Sunday. As the slow rescue efforts frustrated people, blame for the disaster fell on faulty construction methods, which resulted in many buildings being unable to withstand the quakes.

Footage of the affected area shows how some buildings have collapsed like a pack of cards, while others have been damaged but still standing.

Turkish justice officials targeted over 130 people allegedly involved in these substandard construction practices. Turkey's construction codes are up to date on paper with current earthquake-engineering standards. However, they are too rarely enforced, which is why thousands of buildings crumbled, causing immense devastation. The earthquake-prone region already had an area in Syria struggling with years of civil war.

There are several issues that must be considered in order to make sure constructions will resist earthquakes.

Site selection: Choosing an appropriate site that is less prone to earthquakes is a key factor in building an earthquake-resistant building. The building should be located on solid ground, away from active faults or liquefaction-prone soils.

Building design: The design of the building should incorporate the principles of seismic-resistant design. This includes using reinforced concrete, steel or other seismic-resistant materials, designing the building to be flexible and able to withstand the lateral forces of an earthquake, and ensuring that the building's foundation is able to withstand the earthquake's shaking.

Building layout: The building layout should be simple and regular to help distribute seismic forces throughout the structure. Irregular building shapes and configurations can increase the risk of damage during an earthquake.

Quality of construction: The quality of construction is a key factor in building an earthquake-resistant building. The building should be constructed by experienced and qualified engineers and contractors, and materials should be of high quality and properly installed.

Maintenance and inspection: Regular maintenance and inspection of the building is important to ensure that it remains earthquake-resistant over time. This includes regular checks of the building's structural components, such as its foundation, columns, and beams.

Emergency preparedness: In the event of an earthquake, it is important to have emergency plans in place, such as evacuation routes and procedures, emergency supplies, and communication plans.

Overall, building an earthquake-resistant building requires a comprehensive approach that considers all aspects of the building's design, construction, and maintenance. By incorporating seismic-resistant principles into the building's design and construction and maintaining the building over time, it is possible to build structures that can withstand earthquakes and protect lives and property.

Turkey's Justice Ministry announced the establishment of Earthquake Crimes Investigation bureaus yesterday. The bureaus would aim to gather evidence and identify contractors and others responsible for building works and check building permits and occupation permits.

Some of the detained and their lawyers suggested the public was looking for a scapegoat. The detentions were to direct public anger toward builders and contractors, turning attention away from local and state officials who had issued permits for sub-standard constructions without proper auditing. Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in Turkey in May.