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Turkey: Post-Earthquake, How Easy to Stop Substandard Construction?

Looking for survivors, rescuers dig in the rubble of a six-story apartment block in the eastern Turkish town of Ercis. (Photo: Alexander Christie-Miller)

In the wake of two devastating earthquakes, the Turkish government has unveiled ambitious plans to rid Turkey of all unsafe and illegal housing. But analysts say shoddy building practices are likely to continue unless Turkey also ends light-touch regulation of its construction industry.

Nearly 650 people lost their lives in the earthquake that struck the southeastern region of Van on October 23, and a subsequent smaller quake on November 10. With some 35,000 buildings damaged or destroyed, the two tremors exposed Turkey’s decades-old problem of substandard construction.

Shortly after the first quake, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan placed the blame squarely on the building trade and those charged with overseeing it. "Municipalities, constructors and supervisors should now see that their negligence amounts to murder,” Erdoğan said, vowing to demolish all the country’s illegal and unsafe housing, or to reinforce the structures.

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Turkey: Post-Earthquake, How Easy to Stop Substandard Construction?

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