AP

Turkey intends to hold elections on May 14 despite quake

Feb 28, 2023, 2:03 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2023, 4:11 am

FILE - People warm themselves next to a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey, on Feb. 7, 2023. A m...

FILE - People warm themselves next to a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey, on Feb. 7, 2023. A magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook southern Turkey on Monday Feb. 27, 2023 three weeks after a catastrophic temblor devastated the region, causing some already damaged buildings to collapse and killing at least one person, the country's disaster management agency, AFAD, said. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated on Wednesday that his government still intends to hold elections a month earlier than scheduled despite an earthquake last month that devastated parts of southern Turkey.

In an address to legislators of his ruling party, Erdogan chided critics of the government’s handling of the earthquake’s aftermath and said the people would give their response to those critics on May 14 — the election date his ruling party had tentatively set for before the deadly tremor hit.

The Feb. 6 earthquake and strong aftershocks that struck Turkey and Syria have killed around 50,000 people — the vast majority in Turkey.

Close to 204,000 buildings either collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Officials say 14 million people were affected by the quake and millions of people have either left or had been evacuated from the quake-stricken region.

Erdogan didn’t provide information on how the elections could be organized in the quake zone or say whether displaced survivors would be able to cast ballots in their new locations.

The Turkish leader, who has been in power since 2003, is seeking a third term in office as president.

The presidential and general elections, which need to be held no later than June 18, come at a tough time for Erdogan who has seen a decline in his ratings because of skyrocketing inflation.

Erdogan has conceded shortcomings in the initial stages of the response but has blamed them on adverse weather conditions as well as the destruction the earthquake caused to roads and infrastructure.

On Wednesday, he reiterated a promise to rebuild more than 400,000 homes within the year.

“We will remove the debris, we will heal the wounds. We will improve on what was destroyed and present a better life for our people,” he said.

Erdogan also said a so-called National Risk Shield meeting would convene on Friday to review the country’s building stock that don’t comply with construction codes.

Experts point to lax enforcement of building codes as a major reason why the quake caused so much destruction.

The World Bank has estimated that the earthquake has caused an estimated $34.2 billion in direct physical damage — the equivalent of 4% of the country’s 2021 gross domestic product.

The World Bank said recovery and reconstruction costs would be much larger, potentially twice as large, and that GDP losses associated to economic disruptions would also add to the cost of the earthquakes.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

9 hours ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

1 day ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

3 days ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

4 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

4 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

5 days ago

Turkey intends to hold elections on May 14 despite quake