ISTANBUL, Feb 9, 2019 – The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in Istanbul rose to 17 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 Saturday visited the site and said the death toll had risen to 17 with 14 injured. The toll is up from a figure of 15 on Friday with 13 injured.
“We have a great number of lessons to learn from this,” the president told reporters. “We will take the necessary measures”.
Dozens of rescuers worked at the site, as a crane lifted huge blocks of concrete to clear the rubble to search for the remaining victims.
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.
Turkish authorities said 43 people were registered as living in the building.
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.