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Building collapses in Istanbul, trapping at least one person under debris
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 26 - 04 - 2007


An apartment building collapsed in
Istanbul on Thursday, and rescue teams reached one person
trapped alive under the debris, authorities said. It was
not clear whether any more people were trapped.
Firefighter chief Orhan Akyildiz said rescuers reached one
person who was in good condition. Private CNN-Turk
television said rescue teams evacuated the person, who it
said was an injured girl, according to AP.
Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said residents had been
evacuated from the eight-story building before it
collapsed.
«Cracking was heard about half an hour before it
collapsed and it was evacuated to a large extent,» Guler
said. «One or two people reportedly returned to pick up
their belongings.»
The city's mayor, Kadir Topbas, said the building
collapsed when workers were trying to demolish an adjacent
building.
«This is the result of serious negligence,» said Topbas,
blaming a contractor for damaging the foundations of the
apartment building while trying to demolish the structure
next door.
Authorities evacuated two other nearby buildings as a
precaution, said local mayor Osman Develioglu.
Rescue workers were seen crouching in front of gaps in the
rubble in search of survivors. Television footage showed
people being evacuated from neighboring buildings, some
carrying babies. One elderly woman could be seen crying as
she tried to lift debris with her bare hands.
Women wailed as they walked past the rubble and a large
crowd gathered around the site. Rescuers appealed for quiet
so they could hear whether people were trapped in the
rubble.
Building collapses are not uncommon in Turkey, where
shoddy construction was blamed for the deaths of thousands
of people during two massive earthquakes in 1999. Several
contractors who were charged with negligence for ignoring
building codes escaped punishment in February when
statute-of-limitations expired in all ongoing cases that
were filed in 1999.
In February, a five-story apartment building collapsed in
Istanbul, killing two people and injuring 26 others.
Turkish rescue services have expertise in dealing with
building collapses, a result of Turkey's long history of
devastating earthquakes.
Turkish rescuers often carry out earthquake drills in this
sprawling city of more than 12 million, which experts
believe could be hit by a huge quake sometime in the next
30 years.
Geologists have urged the Turkish government since 1999 _
when two earthquakes west of Istanbul killed more than
18,000 people _ to tear down some 50,000 buildings that
would probably collapse if a big quake hit Istanbul.
They say hundreds of thousands of other buildings that
rise in an unstable mass of brick, mortar and stone need to
be reinforced.
-- SPA


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