694 buildings severely damaged in Van after earthquake: Minister

Some 694 buildings have been severely damaged after an earthquake hit the eastern province of Van on Feb. 23, according to preliminary information, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum has said.

Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Kurum said measures were taken in the area after the 5.9-magnitude quake on the Turkey-Iran border, which also damaged 254 houses and 297 barns.

Damage assessment works revealed that damage occurred in many villages of the Başkale and Saray districts of Van, he said.

In approximately 13 villages in the border region, teams have observed that many buildings, especially in Özpınar, Ömerdağlı, Kaşkol, Güvendik, Böğrüpek and Gelenler villages, were built with poor quality material and were adobe houses.

"The teams of our Mass Housing Administration (TOKİ) in Van and the urban transformation teams of the ministry conduct work in the region for housing necessities," Kurum said.

"We have started working on permanent residences for our citizens. I hope we will have entered the process of healing the wounds of our citizens in Van as soon as in other provinces," he stated.

Nine people were killed on Feb. 23 when the magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck near the border with Iran, injuring more than a hundred in villages and towns in both countries, government officials said.

In Turkey, four of the dead were children, and 50 people were injured, including nine critically, the Health Ministry said.

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