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In the face of adversity

The weather is suitably broody as we head in a loop south from Erzincan, where we reach the Karliova triple junction – an area of unprecedented seismic activity where the Anatolian, Eurasian and Arabian tectonic plates meet. Many of the small rural villages in this area have experienced large earthquakes in recent history. The landscape is open and dramatic, the long, sweeping mountains a testament of the regions seismic past.

Most recently, the tiny villages of Basyurt and Ockular were hit by a 6.0m earthquake in the province of Elazig in the early hours of March 8th this year. The kurdish village of Ockular was largely destroyed, experiencing over a hundred aftershocks. There were 51 deaths in the area, many of which were blamed on the regions mud brick houses.

Further into our journey we visit the city of Bingol which was struck by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in 2003 killed 177 people, including 84 children whose school dormitory collapsed. It’s hard to believe that many of the buildings we see here can resist an earthquake of this kind of size in the future, or that newly buildings are constructed in such a way as to be resistant to damage.

Later on we visited the town of Karliova which had been hit by a 7.1m earthquake back in 1949. Today Karliova is an energetic, friendly little town, showing little evidence of it’s turbulent past. Our aim with this project was always to see how everyday life is affected by the on-going threat of earthquakes. Realistically these places only come onto the radar in the event of a disaster, but for us it’s a privilege to see these people going about their everyday business.

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