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Turkey

Turkey building collapse death toll rises to 18

  • Eight-storey block in the Kartal district collapsed on Wednesday
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the site on Saturday
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 February, 2019, 2:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 February, 2019, 2:20am

The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in Istanbul rose to 18, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that authorities have “lessons to learn” from the incident.

The eight-storey block in the Kartal district on the Asian side of the city collapsed on Wednesday but the cause is not yet clear.

Erdogan, visiting the site Saturday, said: “We have a great number of lessons to learn from this. We will take the necessary measures.”

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, meanwhile, told reporters that the death toll had risen to 18 dead and 14 injured.

Dozens of rescuers were working at the site, as a crane lifted huge blocks of concrete to clear the rubble to search for any remaining victims.

The president also went to the hospital to talk to survivors, and then attended the funeral of the nine members of one family who lost their lives in the disaster.

Turkish authorities said 43 people were registered as living in the building.

Environment Minister Murat Kurum, who accompanied Erdogan, said the block had housed 14 apartments and three businesses.

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Turkish media said three of the eight floors had been illegally built – a common practice in the metropolis of some 15 million people.

The collapse fanned criticism of a government amnesty granted last year to people accused of illegal building – a measure announced ahead of municipal elections this March.

Engineers and architects regularly sound the alarm against illegal additional storeys to buildings which they say weaken the constructions’ structure, and put them at greater risk in the event of an earthquake.

A four-storey structure in Istanbul crumbled last year following violent thunderstorms. In January 2017, two people died when another building collapsed in a working class part of the city.