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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 February 2019

Turkey building collapse death toll rises to 21

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the site on Saturday

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan carries a coffin as he joins hundreds of mourners who attend the funeral prayers for nine members of Alemdar family killed in a collapsed apartment building in Istanbul. AP
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan carries a coffin as he joins hundreds of mourners who attend the funeral prayers for nine members of Alemdar family killed in a collapsed apartment building in Istanbul. AP

The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in Istanbul rose to 21 on Saturday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 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.

Mr Erdogan, visiting the site on 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 toll from the building collapse had risen to 21 dead and 14 injured.

It was the third time the toll figures were updated during the day.

"We estimate that there were 35 people trapped under the rubble and we have now accounted for 35," he said while stressing that search operations would continue as before.

Dozens of rescuers were working at the site with a crane lifting huge blocks of concrete to clear the rubble.

President Erdogan also visited a hospital to talk to survivors, before attending 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 housed 14 apartments and three businesses.

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

The collapse fuelled criticism of a government amnesty granted last year to people accused of building illegally — a measure announced before municipal elections this March.

Engineers and architects regularly warn against the illegal addition of storeys to buildings which they say weakens structures, and poses a greater risk in the event of an earthquake.

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

Updated: February 10, 2019 08:32 AM

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