The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU’s Cassidy Johnson part of EFFIT mission to earthquake affected Turkiye

29 March 2023

The EFFIT team spent one week in the South-East of Turkiye, in the area affected by recent huge earthquakes. Cassidy and the team were looking at the relief, response and recovery aspects.

EFFIT team photo during mission to Turkey

The devastating earthquakes that hit the South-East Region of Turkiye and Syria in February 2023 resulted in 50,000 more than people confirmed to have died in Turkey and 7,000 in Syria, though this doesn't include those who have not been found. Millions of people have migrated away from the region, as the earthquakes have destroyed their houses, or they are afraid of the aftershocks. It is an area that is deeply rich in cultures, language and history. The long process of mourning, healing, clearing rubble and rebuilding lives and cities will continue for many years.

In response, the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) has carried out carried out detailed technical evaluations both remotely and in the field looking at the  performance of structures, foundations, infrastructure as well as assessing  the effectiveness of earthquake protection methods such as repair and retofit, and studying disaster management procedures and socio-economic effects of earthquakes. EEFIT is a joint venture between industry and universities that conducts field investigations following major earthquakes. In this case, researchers and professionals from Turkey, the UK and other countries joined the mission.

DPU's Prof Cassidy Johnson joined the field mission in South-East Turkiye as part of the Relief, Response and Recovery Subgroup, working alongside groups on Groups on Seismology, Geotechnics, Infrastructure and Remote sensing. There are 28 team members and 14 that went to the field and 14 working remotely.

The team collected data with the aim of complementing the great efforts of local and international colleagues in order to achieve a more complete view of the impacts of this devastating series of events. The team visited various city centres, and many districts and villages in Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Osmaniye, Gaziantep and Adiyaman.

The Relief, Response and Recovery sub-group, that Prof. Johnson was part of looked at casualties, search and rescue, health care and mental health, education, housing, and relief in the aftermath of the earthquakes. The group found that the intensely damaging earthquakes over a wide region have made providing response and relief challenging. Although initially there was a strong international response, overall the government’s Disaster and Emergency Management Organisation has a tight rein on relief activities in the run up to national elections in May. There are many holes in the relief system and strong critiques of the way the current system is operating. There are also many interesting alternative networks of relief supporting people in the region. Many people have migrated elsewhere in search of housing.

The team made a public presentation online to EEFIT members and the wider engineering community. The findings will be shared in a report, due to be published in May.