Turkey starts rebuilding houses after earthquakes leave 1.5 million homeless
Turkey has reportedly started rebuilding buildings destroyed by a series of devastating earthquakes that struck the country and its neighbor Syria earlier this month. The news comes just days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would start building nearly 200,000 homes as early as March. Meanwhile, over 50,000 people are reported to have died in the earthquakes in both countries.
Why does this story matter?
- On February 6, a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale struck southeastern Turkey and Syria, killing about a thousand people in one day alone.
- Over 160,000 buildings comprising 520,000 apartments were destroyed or severely damaged in the earthquakes.
- According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the devastation has left 1.5 million people homeless, with at least 500,000 new homes required.
President Erdogan pledged to rebuild homes within year
President Erdogan announced on Monday that new housing construction in earthquake zones will begin by March and that the government had created a $106 million investment support package for the affected areas. Looking to woo voters ahead of the upcoming election, the president pledged to rebuild homes within a year, although experts have suggested authorities prioritize safety over speed.
Plan to build 200,000 apartments, 70,000 village houses first: Official
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official said the government's initial plan is to build 200,000 apartments and 70,000 village houses at a cost of around $15B. "For several projects, tenders and contracts have been done. The process is moving very fast," they said. However, New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co estimated the cost of rebuilding houses and infrastructure would be $25B.
Credit debts for affected people postponed for six months
To alleviate the burden on people in severely damaged provinces and districts, the Turkish authorities have reportedly postponed their credit debts for six months. Additionally, those living in other affected areas will also get a one-month deferment. Residents who died in the earthquake will also have their credit debts canceled by public banks, reports said.
Earthquakes produced between 116-210 million tons of rubble: UNDP
The UNDP said the disaster caused by the string of earthquakes produced between 116-210 million tons of rubble, compared to 13 million tons after the 1999 earthquake in northwest Turkey. "Rubble removal accounts for a large share of...$113.5 million request for funding...issued as part of the broader $1 billion UN (United Nations) flash appeal...circulated for donor support (on February 16)," the UNDP added.
Death toll from earthquakes in Turkey, Syria tops 50,000
The combined death toll from earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has crossed 50,000. According to Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), 44,218 deaths were recorded on Friday, while the death toll in Syria was 5,914. Nearly 530,000 people have been evacuated from the disaster zone, Al Jazeera reported, adding around 240,000 rescue workers, including volunteers, are still working in Turkey's 11 earthquake-affected provinces.