Turkey starts building homes for 1.5 million displaced by earthquakestext_fields
Antakya/Ankara, Turkey: After this month's catastrophic earthquakes, Turkey has started the process of rebuilding homes, a government official announced on Friday as the death toll in both Turkey and Syria crossed the 50,000 mark.
The earthquakes on February 6 that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and neighbouring Syria also caused more than 160,000 buildings, housing 520,000 apartments, to collapse or suffer significant damage.
On Friday night, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) reported that the number of earthquake-related fatalities in Turkey had increased to 44,218, Reuters reported.
With Syria's most recent death toll of 5,914, the total number of deaths in the two nations has surpassed 50,000.
The newest death toll from Syria, 5,914, brought the total number of deaths in the two nations above 50,000.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who will be running for office in a few months, has promised to rebuild homes within a year, despite the fact that experts have advised officials to prioritise safety over speed. In the most recent earthquakes, some structures designed to endure tremors collapsed.
"For several projects, tenders and contracts have been done. The process is moving very fast," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding there would be no compromise on safety.
Authorities claim that tents have been sent out for the numerous homeless, but people have complained that accessing them is difficult.
"I have eight children. We are living in a tent. There is water on top (of the tent) and the ground is damp. We are asking for more tents and they don't give them to us," Melek, 67, who was waiting in a line to collect aid outside a high school in the town of Hassa.
A volunteer organisation called Interrail Turkey was using the school as a distribution point for assistance. According to one volunteer, Sumeyye Karabocek, the greatest issue is still a lack of tents.
Half Million New Houses Required
Erdogan's administration has come under fire for both how it handled the destruction and for what many Turks claim were years of lack of enforcement of building quality control.
According to him, the Turkish government's original plan is to spend at least $15 billion building 200,000 apartments and 70,000 village homes. The expense of rebuilding homes and infrastructure was estimated at $25 billion by U.S. bank JPMorgan.
According to the UNDP, 500,000 new homes are required because of the devastation, which has left 1.5 million people without a place to live.
It stated that it had asked for $113.5 million of the $1 billion in funds that the UN had requested last week, adding that it would use this money primarily to clear mountains of rubble.
In comparison to the 13 million tonnes of debris created by the earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999, the UNDP believes that the disaster produced between 116 million and 210 million tonnes of debris.
Additionally, Turkey issued new rules allowing businesses and non-profits to construct residences and workplaces to donate to the minister of urbanisation for the benefit of those in need.
Many survivors have either fled the earthquake-affected area in southern Turkey or have relocated to tent cities, container homes, or other government-sponsored housing.
Saeed Sleiman Ertoglu, 56, of Antakya, loaded up what was left of his undamaged stock from his waterpipe store.
"The glassware was very beautiful, more than usual, but then we had this (earthquake), and it all got ruined," he said after his home and shop survived the first tremors but not the later one. He estimated that just 5% of his merchandise survived.
"What can we do?," he said. "This is an act of God, and God's will always bears gifts."