Illustrative photo – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on January 23, 2023.
Ankara – A 2019 video is circulating on social media showing the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before the local elections at the time, boasted that he had “solved the problem” of more than hundreds of thousands of residents of the Kahramanmaraş province with so-called construction amnesties. This area is one of the worst affected by the earthquake, during which 25,000 buildings collapsed or were seriously damaged according to the data so far. The opposition server Duvar informed about it.
Photo gallery: Earthquake in Turkey and Syria
“We have solved the problem of 144,556 residents of Kahramanmaraş with (construction) amnesty,” Erdogan proclaimed at a rally before local elections in 2019. According to the Duvar server, he also boasted similarly in the provinces of Malatya and Hatay. Even these provinces have now been significantly affected by the earthquake. Turkey's “building amnesty” means local authorities will allow home construction to continue after paying a fine, despite finding defects.
Istanbul City Council Urban Planner Bugra Gökçe tweeted last week that nearly 300,000 buildings in the 10 provinces hit by the February 6 earthquake received construction “amnesty” before the last presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018. According to him, there were 3.1 million buildings in all of Turkey.
Server Duvar wrote on Sunday that Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) planned another construction amnesty even before this year's parliamentary and presidential elections, which are due to be held in mid-May. But last week there were already reports in the media that the elections could be postponed due to the earthquake. Many residents of the affected area criticize the government for insufficient and slow help.
According to the Duvar server, already in 2020 academician Ali Utku Şahin from the University of Hatay warned in his report that in the event of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 there is a risk in the province of Hatay, the collapse of 52,133 houses and the death of about 30,000 people. Also, in 2020, the Disaster Management Agency (AFAD) warned that Kahramanmaraş province is at serious risk in the event of an earthquake. At the time, AFAD called for the immediate evacuation of residents from some buildings in “dangerous zones”.
At the weekend, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay announced that arrest warrants had already been issued for 113 people suspected of having contributed to the collapse by their behavior some buildings as a result of the earthquake.
The 7.8-magnitude tremors that hit the border area of Turkey and Syria in the early hours of February 6th claimed 31,640 lives and over 80,000 injuries in Turkey alone, according to today's reports. According to the information so far, 4,500 people have died due to the earthquake in northwestern Syria.