Letters: Turkey's disaster

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Turkish earthquake disaster is a chilling reminder of the vulnerability of big cities in many parts of the world. By 2020 approaching 50 per cent of the world's population will be living in cities and many of those cities are at risk from natural hazards.

The pace of city growth often outstrips the resources of city governments to provide basic services, let alone ensure that buildings are constructed to disaster-resistant standards. The fact is that the frequency and scale of urban disasters are likely to increase, leaving a trial of human misery and social instability.

When a disaster occurs the emphasis is on rapid response, and we are all touched by stories of personal heroism, impossible rescues and the work of the emergency services and the international aid agencies. But the key to a more hopeful future is thinking longer-term and taking effective steps before the event to reduce risk. This means helping city governments to plan and take the necessary actions with the involvement of the local people and the business community.

This will not happen without the encouragement of the international community and countries of the developed world. It is time for them to take the necessary action.