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Quake death toll surpasses 50,000 in Turkey and Syria

Turkey has begun work to rebuild homes following the devastating earthquakes as the combined death toll in Turkey and Syria surpasses 50,000.

More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged in the February 6 earthquakes that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and neighbouring Syria.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said the death toll in Turkey due to earthquakes rose to 44,218 on Friday night.

With Syria's latest announced death toll of 5914, the combined death toll in the two countries stands at more than 50,000.

President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to rebuild homes within a year, although experts have said the authorities should put safety before speed.

Some buildings that were meant to withstand tremors crumbled in the latest earthquakes.

"For several projects, tenders and contracts have been done. The process is moving very fast," a Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding there would be no compromise on safety.

Authorities say tents have been dispatched for the many who are homeless but people have reported trouble accessing them.

"I have eight children. We are living in a tent. There is water on top (of the tent) and the ground is damp. We are asking for more tents and they don't give them to us," said Melek, 67, who was waiting in a line to collect aid outside a high school in the town of Hassa.

The school was being used as an aid distribution centre by a group of volunteers called Interrail Turkey.

One volunteer, Sumeyye Karabocek, said the shortage of tents remained the biggest problem.

Erdogan's government has endured a wave of criticism over both its response to the devastation and what many Turks say were years of non-enforcement of construction quality control.

The Turkish government's initial plan now is to build 200,000 apartments and 70,000 village houses at a cost of at least $US15 billion ($A22 billion), he said.

United States bank JPMorgan had estimated rebuilding houses and infrastructure will cost $US25 billion ($A37 billion).

The UNDP said it estimated the destruction had left 1.5 million people homeless, with 500,000 new homes needed.

It said it had requested $US113.5 million ($A168.7 million) from the $US1 billion ($A1.5 billion) in funds appealed for by the United Nations last week, adding that it would focus this money on clearing away mountains of rubble.

The UNDP estimates the disaster produced between 116 million and 210 million tons of rubble, compared with 13 million tons of rubble after the earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.

Turkey also issued new regulations under which companies and charities can build homes and workplaces to donate to the urbanisation ministry for people in need.

Many survivors have left the region of southern Turkey that was hit by the quake or have been settled in tents, container homes and other government-sponsored accommodation.