The crack in Mesut Muttaliboglu’s bedroom wall is so wide, he can fit a car key into it.
He turns it sideways, and with a flick of his wrist, a large chunk of plaster flies off the wall and crashes to the ground.
It’s why he and his family are moving out of the flat they’ve lived in for the last 15 years. The whole building has been condemned after failing an earthquake safety test. There’s a very high chance that a tremor would bring this whole block crashing to the ground.
Here in Istanbul, fear is growing.
The two powerful earthquakes in Turkey’s south that claimed almost 50,000 lives have brought a new urgency to its biggest city. Home to 15 million people, it sits on the North Anatolian fault line, and experts predict it’s due its own major earthquake before 2030.
Around 70% of the city’s buildings were built before rule changes that enforced stricter construction standards in 1999, and so are considered potentially unsafe. Just three months ago, a study said a quake here could kill up to 90,000 people. Now, the race is on to get the city ready.
Mesut knows all too well the devastation a quake can cause. He’s just returned from the epicentre in the southern city of Kahramanmaras, where he lost relatives. As we talked in his now-empty flat, he described the moment he found out.