Turkey Arrests Construction Contractor.
In light of fears that the death toll from the earthquake that devastated areas of Turkey and Syria may double from the current total of 28,000, Turkish officials have filed more than 100 arrest warrants over fallen structures.
According to reports, at least 12 persons, including contractors, architects, and engineers involved with some of the tens of thousands of structures devastated by the 7.8 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes last Monday, were in prison.
The United Nations said that the situation in the devastated north-west of Syria, which has already been devastated by more than a decade of civil conflict and where foreign relief has been sluggish to reach, is becoming worse.
The arrests are likely to be seen as an effort by President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, who faces challenging elections in May, to shift responsibility as public rage at the scope of the damage and the speed of rescue efforts continued to grow in Turkey.
Vice-President of Turkey Fuat Oktay said yesterday that 113 of the 131 persons for whom arrest orders had been issued had been recognized by police as being suspected of being responsible for the collapse of parts of the damaged structures.
In particular for structures that sustained significant damage and resulted in fatalities and injuries, Oktay said: “We will follow this up attentively until the relevant legal procedure is finished.”
Murat Kurum, the environment minister, said that 24,921 buildings in the area had fallen or sustained significant damage as a result of the earthquake, based on an early evaluation of more than 170,000 structures.
The administration of Erdoan has long been criticized by the opposition for failing to enforce construction codes and failing to account for the money collected from a special charge put in place after the 1999 zmit earthquake to make apartment buildings and workplaces more quake-resistant.
In comments made so far, the president has seemed to blame fate for the accident, claiming that such calamities have always occurred and are destiny’s design. He has also accused his detractors of lying. He has promised to begin the rebuilding process soon.