By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Following the massive earthquakes that shook southern Türkiye last month, the country's president vowed Friday not to rest until the entire quake-hit region revived.
"We will not stop until we revive all of our cities destroyed by the earthquake, along with their villages and districts," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a groundbreaking ceremony for new houses in the quake-hit city of Gaziantep.
Saying that a "comprehensive preparation for the transformation of risky buildings across Türkiye" is being carried out, Erdogan pledged to "make our cities safe, peaceful, resistant to earthquakes, floods, landslides, fires, and all other risks as soon as possible with the Türkiye National Risk Shield model."
"Our aim is to construct a total of 650,000 new houses, 319,000 of which are to be completed within a year, and deliver them to the quake victims," he added.
On Feb. 6, earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 struck 11 Turkish provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa – claiming more than 50,000 lives.
Over 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.
Erdogan also asked for support in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, and expressed his desire for Türkiye to continue on the "right path" as the country and the world face "a critical crossroads."
Türkiye will head to the ballot boxes on May 14 to elect its president and members of parliament.
Voting is scheduled to start at 8.00 a.m. local time (0500GMT) and end by 5.00 p.m (1400GMT).
If no presidential candidate gets a majority in the first round, the Turkish election board set May 28 as the date for a possible runoff.