Turkish minister urges building earthquake-resilient houses 'for God’s sake'

Turkish Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Özhaseki has addressed mayors and urged building earthquake-resilient houses together “for God’s sake.”

Duvar English

Turkish Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Mehmet Özhaseki on May 29 addressed mayors across the country and said, “Let's make this country, these houses more resilient for God’s sake. Let's prepare for an earthquake.”

Özhaseki made the comments during his visit to the social housing area to be built by the state-run Turkish Housing Authority (TOKİ) in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri’s Kayaönü neighborhood, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Özhaseki called on all mayors across the country and urged building earthquake-resilient houses together.

“I keep saying 'this is an earthquake country, let's do urban transformation together.' Have you ever heard me say 'Party A should come, Party B should not'? I keep saying, 'Mayors of all parties from A to Z, for God’s sake, let's make this country and these houses more resilient. Let's prepare for an earthquake’,” he said.

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.

In a recent example, Turkey’s southeastern region was struck by two major earthquakes on Feb. 6, 2023, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and the other at 7.6, killing more than 50,000 people according to official figures.

According to the official figures, more than 200,000 buildings either collapsed or severely damaged due to the quakes in 11 provinces. The government has been severely criticized for not preparing the region for an earthquake.

Özhaseki previously claimed that victims of the Feb. 6 earthquakes were “thankful” for their homes collapsing, as the new homes built by the TOKİ were of much higher quality.

A 2018-dated amnesty law paved the way for illegal construction and lack of supervision in the region. If a building is granted an amnesty and the relevant fine is paid, the structure is not demolished even though it does not meet the safety and code requirements.

In another example, an earthquake measuring 7.6 struck the Marmara city of İzmit on Aug. 17, 1999, 90 km southeast of Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people. Since then, experts have been warning the next big earthquake should be expected to occur in the vicinity of Istanbul. Istanbul residents have subconsciously been waiting for the earthquake.