April 30, 2023

A Turkish expert estimated the size of the severely damaged buildings as a result of the devastating earthquake that struck the country on February 6, at more than one and a half million housing units throughout the 11 affected Turkish states.

The head of the Chamber of Architects of the Federation of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, Eyup Mohju, stated that half of the 3.4 million buildings in the affected areas in southern Turkey may need to be demolished, according to the British newspaper, the Financial Times.

According to the source, the reconstruction operations in the country, 11 days after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, are estimated at tens of billions of dollars. While the full earthquake toll is still being calculated, local authorities and city planners have begun to assess what is likely to be Turkey’s largest reconstruction effort since the founding of the republic in 1923.

100 billion dollars as an initial cost

Estimating the financial cost of the construction efforts, Mohjo said: “In order to rebuild these homes, the infrastructure and public facilities have to be built so that we can talk about the initial estimated cost of $100 billion for the reconstruction.”

The mayor of the historic Antakya municipality, which was hit by the February 6 earthquake, Lutfo Savas, also estimated the cost of reconstruction at $100 billion. Estimates still vary widely due to limited information on the extent of the damage, but it will certainly be a huge cost.

“The cost is going to be really huge,” said Tiziana Rossetto, professor of earthquake engineering at University College London.

According to the source, a specialist in disaster modeling, who asked not to be named, put the cost of reconstruction in a range between $10 billion and $50 billion.

Nearly 13 million Turks were affected

About 13 million people in Turkey were affected by the earthquake, which killed more than 43,000 people, according to the British newspaper.

Associate professor at Cankaya University in Ankara, who specializes in post-disaster reconstruction, said that residential properties, schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, airports, mosques and other places of worship will all need to either be repaired or rebuilt. It said vital infrastructure such as highways and underground pipes had also been demolished.

A member of the Syrian Civil Defense sits on the rubble of a destroyed house in the city of Harem – (Civil Defense)

Meanwhile, investment bank JP Morgan said the direct cost from the destroyed structures could exceed $25 billion, or 2.5 percent of Turkey’s GDP.

What is the fate of Antioch?

The source believes that one of the most difficult reconstruction operations is the process of rebuilding historical centers such as Antakya, the capital of Hatay Province. Antakya is home to one of the oldest churches in Christianity, which officials said was undamaged, but a synagogue was damaged and a 13th-century mosque was destroyed.

Sarah Schneiderman, a University of British Columbia professor who studied how Nepal recovered after the 2015 earthquake, said building by the state may be faster but is less successful in satisfying people and “ends up with a lot of dollars being spent wrongly.”

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