Death toll in Istanbul building collapse rises to 21, says interior minister

Lester Mason
February 11, 2019

The death toll in the residential building collapse in the Turkish city of Istanbul has climbed to 18, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Saturday.

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

He said the government would take "steps in a determined way" after investigators complete their work.

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

"The death toll has reached 17 people", he told reporters.

Environment Minister Murat Kurum, who accompanied Erdogan, said the block had housed 14 apartments and three businesses. An illegal buildup of the top three floors of the building is considered to be a possible reason behind the collapse.

"We have many lessons that we should learn here", Erdogan said.

Experts say a majority of buildings in Istanbul lack proper licenses and are built illegally or without engineering services.

The collapse fanned criticism of a government amnesty granted previous year to people accused of illegal building - a measure announced ahead of municipal elections this March. He did not say how many people remain unaccounted-for.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials joined the funeral prayers for the Alemdar family following the president's first visit to the site of Wednesday's tragedy. Five other relatives, including two children, are among the 13 people hospitalized in the collapse.

Two days after the collapse, rescue workers managed to save a 16-year-old buy from the rubble.

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Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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