Baylor Professor Describes Post-Earthquake Turkey

Aug. 31, 1999


A Baylor University political science professor says that a lack of timely governmental response coupled with shabby construction was a major contributor to the high death toll from the earthquake that struck Turkey.

"The first few days after the earthquake saw extremely limited government emergency response. It was total chaos. No organized search and rescue, no military assistance, no sanitation, no water. It was one's worst nightmare," said Dr. William Mitchell, a retired Air Force colonel who was in Turkey for a week following the quake as part of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's investigative team. "My tentative conclusions focus on greedy construction firms and disregard for site analysis and code enforcement. However, given the extent of the damage and the large population involved, emergency response would have been extremely challenging for any country."

During his stay in Turkey, Mitchell interviewed survivors and toured field hospitals, industrial facilities and damaged homes. He estimates that the earthquake directly affected 15 million people, killed 40,000 to 60,000 and led to an economic loss of $15 to $30 billion.

A graduate of East Texas State University, Mitchell earned his master's degree in geography and Near East Studies from UCLA and his doctorate in geography and Asian studies from the University of Illinois. He served in civic actions in Vietnam and was the Air Base Group Commander in Izmir, Turkey, during the Gulf War. He has been interviewed by such media organizations as ABC News, Associated Press, AP Radio and The San Jose Mercury News and by the Turkish press.

To speak to Mitchell about his experiences in Turkey, contact Julie Carlson at (254) 710-6681 or .

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