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UN official puts Turkey’s quake damage at over $100bn

REUTERS/Susana Vera
Ozlem Bara reacts as she sits next to the house where she lost three of her cousins in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Iskenderun, Turkey, on March 6, 2023

Damage caused by a devastating earthquake in Turkey will exceed $100 billion, a UN Development Programme official told a press briefing ahead of a major donor conference next week.

“It’s clear from the calculations being done to date that the damage figure presented by the government and supported by international partners would be in excess of $100 billion,” said the UNDP’s Louisa Vinton, by video link from Gaziantep.

More than 52,000 people were killed in Turkey and Syria by the February 6 earthquakes.

The provisional damage figure, which Vinton said covers just Turkey, is being used as a basis for a donor conference to mobilise funds for earthquake victims in Brussels, Belgium on March 16, she added.

The World Bank previously estimated the Turkey damage at around $34.2 billion.

Vinton described the scenes in Turkey’s worst-hit Hatay province as “apocalyptic”, saying hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed.

“The needs are vast but the resources are scarce,” she added.

Last month a government official and four economists said that Turkey’s devastating earthquake will keep inflation above 40 percent in the run-up to elections scheduled for June and will necessitate an additional budget.

They predict that the earthquake, which killed more than 43,000 people in Turkey, will cost the economy more than $50 billion, in line with forecasts from other economists.

Inflation hit a 24-year high above 85 percent in October, stoked by a series of unorthodox interest rate cuts sought by President Tayyip Erdogan, before dropping to 58 percent in January with a favourable base effect.

Inflation had been expected to keep falling to around 35-40 percent by June, but due to the earthquake the four economists, who did not want to be named, now forecast inflation of 42-46 percent at the time of the election.