Could the disaster in Turkey be repeated in Moldova? Officials explain the risks

The Republic of Moldova is located in an area with high seismic risk. It is about the Vrancea area in Romania where earthquakes frequently occur. The last devastating earthquake in our country took place in 1940. Igor Nicoară, Director of the Institute of Geology and Seismology, told BANI.MD that an earthquake with effects similar to the one in Turkey is excluded, given that most blocks are built according to seismic norms.

“We are relatively close to Vrancea, which generates a fairly high seismic hazard and risk, and according to the research results, in the event of a significant earthquake in Vrancea, on the territory of Moldova it would be felt with an intensity of 8.7 degrees on the Richter scale or how was the 1940 earthquake of 7.4 degrees on the Richter scale”, Nicoară explained.

According to him, what was seen in Turkey shows that the intensity of the earthquake is attributed to 8-9 in the epicenter area and already 7.8 degrees in the peripheral areas.

“In Turkey, until 1999, seismic norms were not implemented in the construction of blocks, and that’s why we have the consequences we have. In the Republic of Moldova, seismic standards have been implemented since the 1950s. The buildings that were built, as well as those built today, were built in compliance with seismic standards. Yes, there are some blocks that were built before the 1950s and those could be affected”, said Nicoară.


The director of the Institute of Geology stated that in the Vrancea seismic zone, large earthquakes occur once every 300 years and can reach 8.1 degrees on the Richter scale. “For example, the devastating earthquake that occurred in 1802 was not measured with equipment, but only estimated, according to the degree of destruction, it was estimated at an intensity of 7-8 degrees on the Richter scale.”

Silvia Staci from the Agency for Technical Supervision told BANI.MD that the institution has no data on the state of housing in the Republic of Moldova and their degree of risk in the event of a devastating earthquake. “Most of the blocks are under the management of Tenant Associations”.

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The Republic of Moldova is not a country safe from earthquakes. The Vrancea area is one of the most active seismic areas in Europe, which also causes some of the most powerful and destructive earthquakes. Earthquakes of 6-7 degrees on the Richter scale occur in the area, which are extremely dangerous, especially for blocks of flats in our cities.

Statistically, earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 occur in Vrancea approximately every 10 years, while earthquakes of 7 degrees every 33 years, and those with a magnitude of over 7.5 degrees every 80 years. The last earthquake above 7 degrees (7.1 degrees on the Richter scale) occurred on August 30, 1986, 35 years ago.

We have very few homes insured in the event of a disaster
The latest statistical data show that the housing fund of the Republic of Moldova was, on January 1, 2021, 1.3 million lei. The largest share in the number of homes registered on January 1, 2022 was held by the North development region (30.1%), followed by the Center development region (28.1%), Chisinau municipality (24.2%), the region of South development.

The share of housing insurance is very small, equivalent to 2% of the total. For example, in nine months of 2022, the gross premiums subscribed for housing insurance totaled 64.5 million lei or 3.5% of the total gross premiums of 1.8 billion lei. Moldovans do not rush to insure their homes, the largest share of insurance is mandatory for those who have properties purchased with bank loans.

During the last 200 years, hundreds of earthquakes have been recorded annually on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, but the strongest of them (with a magnitude of over 7 degrees) occurred in the years 1940, 1977, 1986 and 1990. Fortunately, their consequences were not so disastrous compared to the consequences of the earthquake that shook Romania in 1977.

The intensity of earthquakes in Moldova
The maximum intensity of possible earthquakes, in the Republic of Moldova, can reach up to 8 degrees (on the Mercalli scale) in the south and southwest, up to 7 degrees in the central and northern part and up to 6 degrees in the northeast of the territory of our country. For comparison, the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria had a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale (or 9 on the Mercalli scale).

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