The 2 earthquakes that hit Turkey caused an astounding $34.2 billion worth of damages, World Bank estimates

February 27, 2023, 6:34 PM UTC

The two deadly earthquakes that devastated Turkey’s southeast early this month are estimated to have cost $34.2 billion in physical damages, or about 4% of 2021 gross domestic product, according to a preliminary assessment by the World Bank. 

The lender will also revise its 2023 GDP forecast for Turkey down by half a percentage point from its initial 3.5%-4% estimate, World Bank Turkey Director Humberto Lopez told reporters on a call Monday after presenting the assessment. 

Reports of the impact of the disaster vary widely. Bloomberg Economics calculated that the quakes could shave off 1% of this year’s GDP, while JPMorgan Chase & Co said in a report that direct costs from the destruction of physical structures may reach $25 billion, or 2.5% of the country’s GDP, with risks to the upside.

More than half the costs stem from residential buildings, the World Bank said, adding that “extensive” damage to infrastructure, including railways, highways and bridges, has also been taken into account.  

The analysis excludes indirect or secondary effects of the tremors that killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and Syria. 

The group said recovery and construction costs could double when other factors such as increased prices and the cost of emergency responses are considered. “Based on global experience, recovery and reconstruction costs will be much larger” than the estimates.

The World Bank will provide Turkey with $1.78 billion in assistance for relief and recovery work. It is offering immediate assistance of $780 million through two existing projects in the country to rebuild basic municipal-level infrastructure, according to an earlier statement.

Admitting Mistakes

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged shortcomings in the relief efforts. 

“Due to the destructive impact of the temblors and bad weather, we weren’t able to work at the desired level in the first few days,” he said, speaking in the quake-hit Adiyaman province. “For that, I’m asking for blessings. Like every mortal, we may have deficiencies and mistakes.”

A fresh tremor in Malatya province, with a magnitude of 5.6, killed one person and injured dozens on Monday.

“We will build better every home that collapsed,” Erdogan said.

–With assistance from Taylan Bilgic.

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