Ahmet Arslan said that Turkey had developed several earthquake-resistant structures in the last few years.

“We live in a quake-prone country, and should always be prepared for a possible earthquake,” he said, speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency.

“We are building every single tunnel, bridge and structure, keeping in mind a possible earthquake.”

“The Osmangazi and Yavuz Sultan Selim bridges that we opened to traffic last year, can withstand even a very strong earthquake which could occur once every 2,500 years.”

He added that the 15 Temmuz Sehitler and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul had been strengthened against a possible earthquake.

He said that mega projects like the Avrasya (Eurasia) and Marmaray tunnels – constructed under the Marmara Sea – are one of the securest places in Istanbul in case of an earthquake.

“The Avrasya (Eurasia) Tunnel can continue its services without any damage despite a strong earthquake that may strike Istanbul every 500 years,” he said.

Scientists say that a strong earthquake may strike the Marmara region in the near future.

"We cannot give a time but it is clear that an earthquake, which records more than 7 on the Richter scale, will hit the Marmara region,” professor Haluk Ozener, the director of Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute at Bogazici University, told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday.

More than 18,000 people were killed and 50,000 injured when a magnitude-7.4 earthquake on the Richter Scale hit Izmit, a town 100 kilometers away from Istanbul, in 1999.

The earthquake cost an estimated economic loss of $20 billion, according to the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) website.

Anadolu Agency