Erdogan visits site of Turkey building collapse; toll at 17

ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey’s President yesterday visited the scene of the apartment building collapse in Istanbul, saying there were “many lessons to learn” as the death toll increased to 17.

The cause of Wednesday’s tragedy is under investigation but officials have said the top three floors of the eight-storey building in the Kartal district were built illegally.

“In this area, we have faced a very serious problem with illegal businesses like this done to make more money,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at the scene.

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

Earlier, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca increased the death toll to 17. Erdogan also visited a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated. Seven are in serious condition.

Friends and relatives waited near the wreckage for news of their missing loved ones as emergency teams, aided by sniffer dogs, worked around the clock to reach possible survivors.

Officials have not disclosed how many people are still unaccounted for. The building had 14 apartments with 43 registered residents.

Rescue workers use a sniffer dog as they search for survivors in the rubble of an eight-storey building which collapsed two days earlier in Istanbul. – AP