New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin filed a story this week from Istanbul tracing the scientific analysis and sociological realities that are leading to predictions of disaster in fifteen world capitals that could dwarf the tragedy that is still unfolding in Haiti.  The poster child is Istanbul, where the population has grown from 1 million to 10 million in the past 50 years and where a billionaire real estate developer confessed to Revkin that most structures have been built with substandard materials, saying “If an earthquake occurs in Istanbul, not even the army will be able to get in.”

Seismologists have mapped the regions where there is a one in ten chance of a quake in the next 40 years.  Many world capitals are encompassed by serious threats:

Catastrophic:  Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Almaty, Kazakhstan and Katmandu, Nepal

Destructive:  Istanbul, Turkey; Tehran, Iran; Jakarta, Indonesia; Quito, Ecuador; Guatemala City, Guatemala and San Salvador, El Salvador

Very Strong: Bangkok, Thailand; Delhi, India; Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan; Cairo, Egypt and La Paz, Bolivia

Engineering and building structures to withstand the enormous energy unleashed along fault lines is beyond the means of any but the most affluent societies.  University of Colorado seismologist Roger Bilham estimates that an engineer is involved in only 3% of the construction that is currently going on around the world. With Turkey spending $800 million dollars simply to reinforce hundreds of schools, hospitals and other public buildings in Istanbul, imagine the price tag of making a whole city safe.

Humbling, daunting, scary and a problem in need of a solution to say the least.

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About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.

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