Turkey expands investigation into building collapses as quake count tops

Turkey expands investigation into building collapses as quake count tops 50,000 – Portal.com

  • According to the justice minister, 184 people were arrested as the investigation widened
  • The death toll in Turkey and Syria exceeds 50,000
  • According to the fire department, body parts are found in rubble every day

ANTAKYA/ISTANBUL, Turkey, February 25 (Portal) – Turkey has arrested 184 people suspected of causing buildings to collapse in this month’s earthquakes and investigations are expanding, a minister said on Saturday , as anger simmers at what many see as corrupt building practices methods practices.

Overnight, the death toll from the earthquakes, the strongest of which struck in the middle of the night on February 6, rose to 44,128 in Turkey. This brought the total number of deaths in Turkey and neighboring Syria to more than 50,000.

More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey in the disaster, the worst in the country’s modern history.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said during a press conference in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which was among ten provinces hit by the disaster, that more than 600 people were under investigation in connection with collapsed buildings.

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Those formally arrested and detained include 79 contractors, 74 people who have legal responsibility for buildings, 13 property owners and 18 people who made modifications to buildings, he said.

Many Turks have expressed outrage at what they see as corrupt building practices and flawed urban developments.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who faces the biggest political challenge of his two-decade rule in elections scheduled for June, has pledged accountability.

In Gaziantep province, the mayor of Nurdagi district – who belongs to Erdogan’s ruling AK party – was among those arrested as part of investigations into collapsed buildings, state broadcaster TRT Haber and other media reported.


Almost three weeks after the disaster, there is no definitive death toll in Turkey and officials have not said how many bodies may still be trapped under the rubble.

A firefighter who was helping clear debris in the hard-hit city of Antakya said body parts were being found daily.

“It’s very difficult. You can’t tell a man to keep working if he’s holding out his arm to someone,” said the firefighter, who asked not to be named.

Nearly two million people made homeless by the disaster are being accommodated in tents, container houses and other facilities in the region and other parts of the country, Turkey’s Civil Protection Agency said.

More than 335,000 tents have been erected in the earthquake zone and container settlements are being erected in 130 locations, while nearly 530,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas, she added.

But near Antakya, Omran Alswed, a Syrian, and his family still live in makeshift shelters.

“Our homes are badly damaged, so we took shelter here in a garden in our neighborhood,” Alswed said.

“The biggest problem are the tents. It’s been 19 days and we still haven’t received a single tent. We’ve also applied to move to a tent camp, but they said the ones nearby are full,” he said.

The only remaining Armenian village in Turkey, Vakifli, was badly hit by the quake, with 30 of its 40 stone houses badly damaged.

“Vakifli is all we have, the only Armenian village in Turkey. It’s our home. Seeing it like this breaks my heart,” said Masis, a 67-year-old retired jeweler who returned to his hometown after 17 years in Istanbul.

Turkey and Armenia are still at odds over the 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey’s predecessor. Armenia speaks of genocide.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but disputes the numbers and denies that it was systematic.

Writing by Tom Perry Editing by Helen Popper

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