(Photo credit: Getty Images)
A Turkish business group estimates that last week’s catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake could have wreaked as much as $84 billion in damage in Turkiye, representing more than a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The estimate reported by Bloomberg is a massive spike from previous analyses from western firms that placed the figure at around $3-5 billion, not accounting for supporting impacted people.
The disaster, which also greatly affected Syria, struck in the lead-up to general elections on 4 May, turning up the pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. With annual inflation running close to 60 percent, Erdogan had hoped to deliver some economic relief for citizens growing desperate over skyrocketing prices.
Following the earthquake, Ankara needs to account for a significant increase in public spending to meet the needs of 13.5 million affected people – 15.7 percent of Turkiye’s population – and for rebuilding efforts across 10 provinces.
The 10 affected provinces account for about 9 percent of Turkiye’s GDP.
As a result, the budget deficit, projected at 3.5 percent of the GDP in 2023, is likely to grow to at least 5 percent, threatening to exacerbate Turkiye’s economic woes.
Officials have revealed that 24,921 buildings across the affected region had collapsed or were heavily damaged during the quake, based on assessments of more than 170,000 buildings.
On 12 February, officials in Ankara vowed to thoroughly investigate anyone suspected of responsibility for the collapse of buildings, adding that the prosecutor’s office has already ordered the detention of 113 suspects.
“We will follow this up meticulously until the necessary judicial process is concluded, especially for buildings that suffered heavy damage and buildings that caused deaths and injuries,” Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters.
He added that the justice ministry established earthquake crimes investigation bureaus in the quake zone provinces to investigate deaths and injuries.
In Turkiye, the death toll reached 29,605 as of Sunday night.