Cyprus to speed up repairs to high-rises amid quake worries

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriot authorities will spend more than 100 million euros ($106 million) to repair dozens of dilapidated high-rise housing units built decades ago for refugees from the island’s 1974 Turkish invasion, officials said Thursday.

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the plan foresees immediate repairs or complete reconstruction of 43 buildings deemed to be most at risk. He spoke after a meeting with lawmakers, engineers, municipal officials and representatives of thousands of displaced persons.

Repairs will eventually be carried out to 315 other apartment buildings erected in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, which was triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece and has left the island divided along ethnic lines.

The buildings were among dozens of housing estates hastily constructed throughout the southern part of the island to shelter 160,000 Greek Cypriots who fled their homes amid fighting in the north where the Turkish army invaded.

Renovations have been carried out in many of these buildings. But last month’s powerful earthquake in Turkey that killed more than 48,000 people stirred up concerns in Cyprus that repairs weren’t moving quickly enough to ensure they could withstand earthquakes.

Ioannou said tenants will be temporarily housed elsewhere until repairs are completed. Funding will come from the government and work will proceed without the red tape and other complications that have previously delayed such repairs.

Ioannou said building owners will choose from a list of pre-approved civil engineers who will determine whether the structure will have to be completely rebuilt or needs lesser work.

“They themselves will decide, taking into account the amount of funds that will be allotted to them,” the minister said.

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