Tourists and earthquakes ... a ticking time Bomb !

Kusadasi Turkey - image courtesy

This is an article we wrote on February 07 2011, a few weeks before the Christchurch tragedy. The article will be regularly updated if we encounter earthquakes in cities or areas frequently visited by tourists.
Those travel organizations who are engaging themselves in informing their clients about earthquake preparedness are invited to let us know what they do. We will be happy to grant them a platform for their attitude. Contact us via this form or call us at +32478299395

Original article
Yesterday a weak earthquake struck below Kusadasi, Turkey.
Kusadasi is a major world tourist destination with thousands of tourists enjoying the sun on the Kusadasi beaches during the summer and thousands of cultural tourists visiting Ephesus and other beautiful ruins .
Very high concentrations of foreign tourists are also enjoying great holidays in Bali, Morocco, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand,  etc., to name only a few.

In 2004, the Indonesia tsunami killed more than 200,000 people in Asia, a lot of them in beach locations.
The 2004 tsunami was one of the first earthquakes which had a magnitude of tourist victims.

So far, only a few tourists have been killed by direct earthquake hits, but as more and more new tourist locations are becoming very popular in earthquake rich countries, it is only a question of time before this will happen. Many of the thriving new Turkish holiday cities and villages are built near dangerous faulting zones.

Only the dream is sold to these tourists.
Earthquake safety is a spoiling factor to sell exotic vacations and can better be kept quiet.

Did your tour operator inform you about the earthquake risk in your destination? Probably NOT!
Did your travel agency inform you about the earthquake risk in your destination? Probably NOT!
Have you been staying in a hotel in an earthquake rich country and where you have been informed by the staff what to do in case of an earthquake? Probably NOT!

This should change ASAP. Earthquake preparedness is also for tourists.
DROP, COVER and HOLD is not only meant for local people.
A couple of simple instructions can save a lot of lives when the impossible happens.
Below this article you will find the earthquake preparedness instructions of FEMA (USA).

We hope that the tourist industry will change his attitude in favor of earthquake preparedness.
We also call upon local administration to support the accommodation owners and people active in tourism.

Armand Vervaeck
SOS Earthquakes non-profit Foundation

What to Do During an Earthquake if you are inside a house or building

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake.
Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur.
Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.


* DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.  If there isn™t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
* Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
* Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
* Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
* Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
* Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
* DO NOT use the elevators.


* Stay there.
* Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
* Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls.
Many fatalities occur when people are running outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls.
Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury.
Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.


* Stop as quickly as possible as safety permits and stay in the vehicle.
Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
* Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.


* Do not light a match.
* Do not move about or kick up dust.
* Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
* Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Some examples of dangerous earthquake tourist destinations and related articles
Killer earthquakes in Portugal (mainland)
Killer earthquakes in the Azores and Madeira (Portugal)
Agadir Morocco February 29 1960, killing in between 12,000 en 15,000 people
Weak earthquake in Quito (Ecuador) is a reminder to be ready for a worst case scenario !
Weak earthquake close to Lima, Peru
The terrible deadly earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand on 22/02/2011

QuakeSOS has been developed to help actively people who are caught in an earthquake + delivers "Earthquake Report" information on your iPhoneQuakeSOS is a FREE iPhone application developed by Armand Vervaeck (SOS Earthquakes), the creator and main contributor to Earthquake Report. The Application simplifies immediate group communication to friends and family members (with your exact GPS location) and is constantly feeding the users with "Earthquake Report" news. Together with your own family and friends, QuakeSOS will be your closest earthquake friend.
a was also created by SOS Earthquakes. makes it easy to let the world know which shaking people have experienced during the earthquake. gives also the opportunity to write some additional text. Filling up the form takes only 1 minute. gives an overview of all the resent earthquakes and let you even go back in time and retrieve earthquakes of a certain date in the past.


  1. Ana Paula Correia and José Ribeiro (Portugal) says:

    Truly interesting and opportune text.
    As you stressed, there are lots of people travelling nowadays to these "paradises", which suddenly could became like hell.
    But, of course, the local people risk is hundreds of times bigger, as they live there and in risky conditions.

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