| 18 June 2024, Tuesday |

Turkey widens probe into building collapses as quake toll exceeds 50,000

As resentment grows over what many perceive to be unethical building practices, Turkey has detained 184 people suspected of being behind the collapse of structures in this month’s earthquakes, and investigations are expanding, a minister said on Saturday.

The number of people killed by the earthquakes, the most severe of which struck Turkey on February 6 at midnight, increased to 44,128 over night. With that, there had been more than 50,000 fatalities in Turkey and neighboring Syria.

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

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that more than 600 people had been investigated in connection with collapsed buildings, speaking during a news conference in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which was among 10 provinces hit by the disaster.

Those formally arrested and remanded in custody include 79 construction contractors, 74 people who bear legal responsibility for buildings, 13 property owners and 18 people who had made alterations to buildings, he said.

Many Turks have expressed their outrage at what they perceive to be dishonest construction methods and poor urban planning.

With elections set for June, President Tayyip Erdogan will face the largest electoral test of his two-decade leadership. He has pledged responsibility.

According to reports from the official broadcaster TRT Haber and other media, the mayor of the Nurdagi district in the province of Gaziantep, a member of Erdogan’s AK Party, was one of those detained as part of the investigations into collapsed structures.

  • Reuters