Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to reconstruct the country’s southern region in the wake of powerful earthquakes that struck earlier this month.
“With the completion of debris removal activities, we are starting the reconstruction and revival of our region,” Erdogan told a press briefing on Tuesday in Elbistan district of the Kahramanmaras province, the epicentre of the massive February 6 quakes.
“In a few months, we are starting the construction of 309,000 houses, including village houses, throughout the earthquake zone,” he added.
Erdogan reiterated that scientists are calling the disaster an “exceptional natural event.”
“While we are reviving the provinces, districts, and villages in the quake-hit region, we will speedily transform other parts of our country that face the same threat,” he said.
The president also warned the public that aftershocks are still continuing and called on them to avoid damaged buildings, adding: “We expect our citizens to be more cautious in this regard.”
On February 6, the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 provinces — Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.
More than 13 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the devastating quakes, as well as many in northwestern Syria.
‘Solidarity of the century’ needed
Later, visiting Afsin, also part of quake-hit Kahramanmaras, Erdogan stressed that the government is taking steps to mitigate the financial burden of earthquake victims as soon as possible.
“As of today, we begin to pay out 15,000 Turkish liras to our earthquake victims who are moving,” he said.
Later, in Dogansehir in quake-hit Malatya, he told how the deadly quakes amount to “probably one of the biggest natural disasters in history.”
Saying that the country’s southern regions have faced many aftershocks, Erdogan added: “In the face of the disaster of the century, we strive to overcome obstacles by displaying the solidarity of the century.”
“We will definitely provide our citizens with modern, safe, and comfortable buildings where they can live in peace,” he stressed.