Turkey’s president on Thursday announced plans to build at least 1.5 million housing units in the quake-rocked Izmir province over the next five years. 

Speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country currently has 1,000 container units in stock and is using those in the Aegean province to temporarily house victims of last week’s quake.

“We will settle our citizens in those containers” while construction starts to replace housing that was destroyed, said Erdogan.

Saying that nationwide there are at least 6.7 million housing units waiting renovation, he added that the area hit by last Friday’s earthquake is a wetland.

“We have now reserved an area of 1.4 million square meters, belonging to agriculture and forest livestock, towards building residences [for the Izmir victims],” he added.

Working ‘day and night’

Erdogan stressed that all measures are currently being taken by Turkey’s Urbanization and Environment Ministry, adding: “We want to have no issues with [building] foundations. Necessary surveys of foundations [in the area] are being done.”

The government aims to allocate more areas to expand housing in Izmir, with at least 1.5 million housing units to be built over the next five years, he explained.

“We will continue to work day and night to prepare our country for natural disasters, especially earthquakes,” he stressed.

Last week’s deadly quake in Izmir province saw buildings reduced to rubble. There were emotional scenes as rescue workers pulled out survivors.

The death toll from the magnitude-6.6 quake rose to 114 as of Wednesday.

As many as 36 injured people are still receiving treatment, while about 1,000 have been discharged from hospitals, according to the Turkey’s disaster agency.

A total of 2,124 aftershocks – 46 of them with a magnitude higher than 4 – were recorded after the earthquake, the agency said.

Turkey is among the world’s most seismically active zones and has suffered devastating earthquakes in the past, including the magnitude 7.6 Marmara quake in 1999.

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