Why do people in rich countries have a much much better chance of surviving earthquakes than people in poor countries? According to this article in the latimes.com, it’s enforcement of building codes. It’s not enough to have building codes, as they had in Turkey, they need to be enforced. You can argue that poor countries can’t stop squatters and slum dwellers from building substandard houses, but you can’t argue that schools and other public buildings and private buildings can’t be made up to code.
Otherwise these structures are death traps.