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‘Mysterious smell’ scares Istanbul residents

A mysterious smell that emerged on Istanbul’s Asian side during the day on Dec. 6 stirred panic and frightened its residents, with locals calling provincial institutions to warn them.

The phone lines of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Istanbul Governor’s Office and Istanbul Gas Distribution Industry and Trade Inc. (İGDAŞ) were jammed due to constant calls, as the institutions’ Twitter accounts were also bombarded by numerous tweets.

“The smell on the coastal districts of the Kartal, Maltepe, Pendik and Tuzla [districts] is not due to the natural gas infrastructure of the city,” İGDAŞ said in a statement. “But keep your windows closed,” the institution advised the residents.

The smell quickly made people wonder whether the smell was a sign of an earthquake.

Naci Görür, a prominent Turkish earthquake expert, told the daily Hürriyet that it was “not possible.”

Görür pointed to the mucilage, a thick and slimy substance made up of compounds released by marine organisms that surfaced in the Marmara Sea in late May and that invaded a large area of the sea in June, as the source of the smell.

But Nuray Çağlar, an expert from a science board set up to fight mucilage, disagreed. “Such a smell did not emerge in May or June. Why now? There is no way the mucilage can cause such a smell,” she said.

All eyes are now on the municipality and the governor’s office for an explanation about the smell whose whiffs kept appearing during the day before the smell vanished in the evening on Dec. 6.

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