Turkey/Syria earthquake: a mover’s update

An Istanbul-based FIDI Affiliate has spoken about the impact of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that hit the countries on February 6.

In addition to the huge loss of life – which some unofficial sources think could exceed 100,000 – there will be knock-on impacts on businesses, according to Jan Lichtenberg, of Istanbul-based Bergen International Movers.

Speaking to FIDI Focus, he said that the two consecutive earthquakes centred on the rural east and southeast of Turkey. While this is some distance from the country’s largest cities, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, it significantly affected 10 cities – including Malatya and Hatay – with approximately 13.5 million of the country’s 85m population affected.

Lichtenberg said that while most major Turkish industries are located in areas not directly impacted by the earthquakes, the region affected is ‘one of the main industrial areas for textile factories, where all big companies such as Levis, Zara and others have their manufacturing factories’.

Ports near the site of the earthquake, notably Iskenderun and Mersin, have been significantly affected and are not fully operational, said Lichtenberg.

‘These ports are mainly for commercial goods, so will not affect our removal business very much, but will affect the commercial business,’ he said. ‘This will also add additional workload to other main ports such as Istanbul and Izmir. However, we do not expect any abnormal increases on operational costs.’

The recovery and rebuilding effort in the country will have a major impact on the Turkish economy, he said. ‘Turkey has already had a lot of problems with high inflation, devaluation, so this will get worse.

‘After the debris is moved, there will be many people left without houses, hygiene, hospitals, or work to go to. This will be a major problem. It will take years to build these cities again – and meanwhile how the people will survive is a very important issue.’

He added that concerns remain about predictions of a similarly large earthquake hitting Istanbul – Turkey’s largest city, with a population of 20 million – within the next 10 to 20 years.

‘If precautions are not taken this would be a much bigger catastrophe,’ he said. ‘It would affect Turkey, but also many European companies that have big production plants in the area’.

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