Turkey, Syria still on the way to recovery from 2023 quakes

One year on from the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria, some evacuees are preparing to move into newly-built public housing.

The February 6 quakes killed at least 53,537 people in Turkey and about 6,000 in Syria.

In Turkey -- where nearly 700,000 people are still sheltering in shipping containers -- public housing units have been completed, with about 50,000 households ready to move in.

New units will be made available for 120 households in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskenderun, which was one of the hardest-hit areas. Prospective tenants, who were picked through a lottery, visited the site on Sunday to see what their new rooms look like.

A 45-year-old man said he was so excited to get picked for the public housing, since the tent and container he used to live in were too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

The earthquakes caused severe damage across a wide swath of the region. Officials are hoping to prevent people and industries from moving elsewhere. But only about one-sixth of the planned public housing projects have been completed.

In civil war-torn Syria, officials have been trying to deliver aid to hard-hit areas in the northwest, but they faced difficulty doing so in areas occupied by anti-government forces. Many evacuees are still living in tents.

Syria's economy is in the doldrums and it faces a raft of other issues, including unemployment, education for children and diversions of aid supplies.