The Cost of Earthquake: Turkey Suffers Loss of At Least $84 Billion; GDP to Fall by 2 Percentage Points

Even as the combined death toll in the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria last week crossing 36,000 and the rescue window closing, the focus has shifted to the economic costs of the biggest tremor the region suffered in a century.

According to the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, the magnitude 7.8 earthquake has cost Turkey at least $84 billion. The business group's estimate of economic losses has gone way beyond the government's own figure of $50 billion.

Turkey earthquake
Buildings came down crashing after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey Twitter

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as many as 13 million of his country's 85 million people have been affected by the earthquake. The 10 provinces that were hit by the earthquake contribute as much as 10 percent of Turkey's GDP.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said some 26 million people have been affected by the earthquake. Among them, a whopping $42.8 million people support in terms of medicines and treatment. Hospitals across the quake-hit regions have been damaged, making the health crisis worse.

According to the United Nations officials monitoring the developments, the actual death toll will go steeply higher. The toll will "double or more" from the level of 28,000 hit in the weekend. "I think it is difficult to estimate precisely as we need to get under the rubble but I'm sure it will double or more," UN relief chief Martin Griffiths said.

According to a report published by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, rebuilding housing will incur the biggest share of costs. Rebuilding of transmission lines and infrastructure will be the second biggest draw.

Turkey earthquake
Dust engulfs the surroundings as another multistoried building is seen collapsing in Turkey as the country was hit by a strong 7.8 magnitude earthquake Twitter

President Erdogan has laid out a plan under which the government will undertake complete reconstruction of homes within a year.

However, in some relief to Turkey, the IMF has calculated that the impact of last week's earthqake on the economy will not be as harsh as the magnitude 7.4 tremor that killed more than 17,000 people in the region of Duzce in 1999.

Reuters reported, citing economists, that the devastating earthquake would result in the reduction of Turkey's gross domestic product by at least two percentage points this year.

International Aid

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it will spend$85 million to offer urgent life-saving relief for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Canada has committed C$20 million in donations.

Turkish Lira
Turkish Lira Wikimedia Commons

More than 30 countries have sent rescue experts, equipment and relief materials to Turkey and Syria. The US, China, India, Germany, Japan, Britain, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Russia and Australia are among the countries that sent relief missions. Countries like Greece, Armenia and Cyprus set apart hostilities and sent relief and rescue missions to Turkey.