Turkey's earthquake is a warning for Istanbul, which would face even more deaths from a quake
City has 15 million people and thousands of buildings that aren't ready
The high death toll from the massive earthquake in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria is in large part a result of the poor structural integrity of thousands of buildings, experts say.
This is why Istanbul, a city of 15 million people which geologists predict will eventually get hit by a strong quake, could see tens of thousands of deaths unless action is taken on the thousands of buildings in the city that aren't earthquake proof or resistant.
While efforts have been made to modernize building codes and protect against tremors, researchers say there is a vast challenge getting older buildings safe enough to withstand a quake.
Turkey lies on two major fault systems, the North Anatolian Fault and East Anatolian Fault, making it the country in that area with the highest risk to be affected by a quake. Earthquake researchers predict that an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or stronger is very likely to strike Istanbul, which is close to the North Anatolian Fault, within the next 70 years.
Estimates vary as to potential losses of life if an earthquake struck Istanbul. The municipality of Istanbul conducted its own study estimating that 14,500 people will die if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake happens at night. One study by a group of European researchers projected 30,000 to 40,000 would be killed.