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Purdue professor, civil engineer travels to Turkey to help after earthquake

Ayhan Irfanoglu .png
Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 20, 2023

ANKARA, Turkey — A Purdue professor who was born in Turkey has returned to the country as a researcher specializing in earthquake engineering.

According to the Associated Press, authorities say more than 110,000 buildings across 11 quake-hit Turkish provinces were either destroyed or so severely damaged by the Feb. 6 quake that they need to be torn down.

"Many, many teams are working in the field from domestic teams right now inspecting and assessing and these buildings," Ayhan Irfanoglu, associate head of civil engineering in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, said. "We can check whether this was an issue of you know, a design or let's say adherence or meeting the design requirements or [if] the [earthquake] motions were really beyond what they were designed for."

Irfanoglu is in Turkey to share his knowledge with those teams. He spent time near the disaster site last week and says he doesn't know why some building survived the earthquake, but hopes field data will provide answers.

Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since the Feb. 6 quake. The AP reports more than a million and a half people are in temporary shelters.

"So many of these people are now homeless, unfortunately, they won't be allowed to go back and they can't go back," Irfanoglu said.

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He spent the first five years of his life near the town of İskenderun.

"When I was walking around, I actually remembered things from 45 years ago that I had forgotten," Irfanoglu said. "I'm here really to help and really share what I know, what I see with my colleagues. There are some excellent engineers in Turkey."

The Turkish disaster management agency AFAD on Monday raised the number of confirmed fatalities from the Feb. 6 earthquake in Turkey to 41,156. That increased the overall death toll in both Turkey and Syria to 44,844.

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On Monday, a new 6.4 magnitude earthquake killed at least three people and injured more than 200 in parts of Turkey.