A deadly earthquake in eastern Turkey has rekindled questions about how the government spends billions of liras in “quake taxes” in a country crisscrossed by fault lines and whose biggest city, Istanbul, is said to be at risk for a major tremor.

The 6.8 magnitude Jan. 24 quake, centered on the town of Sivrice in Elazig province, claimed more than 40 lives in the region. Since then, other tremors have jolted western Turkey, fanning misgivings on how much headway the country has made in quake precautions since 1999, when two massive tremors hit the industrialized northwest three months apart, killing some 20,000 people in several provinces, including Istanbul.

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Written by Mustafa Sönmez