Building collapse kills one in Istanbul, probe finds sea sand in construction

A building in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district collapsed on June 2, killing one and injuring eight. Police detained two after an initial examination revealed that sea sand was used in the construction, and an extra story was added to the building against regulation.

Duvar English

A building in Istanbul's Küçükçekmece district collapsed at around 8:45 a.m. for unknown reasons. One person was reported dead and nine were rescued from the rubble with various degrees of injury.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that the dead resident was a Turkmenistan national, and a mother and baby rescued from the rubble were in critical condition.

Initial examinations revealed that the building was constructed 36 years ago, with an additional 1.5 floors added illegally later, stated Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Mehmet Özhaseki in a social media announcement.

"On-site inspections showed that the building did not comply with architectural and engineering standards, used sea sand in its construction, and had undergone modifications that compromised its structural integrity," noted the minister.

Police detained the owner of the collapsed building, Hacı Murat Gençtürk, and the owner of the restaurant at the building's ground level, as part of an investigation launched by the Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.

A statement from the prosecutor's office said that one deputy chief public prosecutor and two public prosecutors were assigned and dispatched to the scene as part of the investigation. 

Firefighters and search-and-rescue teams collaborate in retrieving people from the rubble.

Following the completion of search and rescue operations, a three-member expert team appointed by the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office would begin examination to determine fault.

Meanwhile, a resident of the neighboring building said that they discussed urban renewal together with the collapsed building’s owner Gençtürk. However, he refused due to personal reasons and the neighboring building proceeded with urban transformation on its own.

The collapse revealed the current state of Istanbul’s urban fabric, raising concern about the “Big Istanbul Earthquake” which is imminent according to experts. 

The earthquake is expected to surpass 7.0 in magnitude, which would create massive material devastation in the city. Experts often note that the construction in the metropolis is unlikely to be prepared for the quake.

The 7.7 and 7.8-magnitude Feb. 6 earthquakes in southeastern Turkey devastated the region and reignited worries about a similar event in the metropolis, which is much more densely populated. 

Minister Özhaseki estimated that 600,000 flats would collapse in Istanbul in an earthquake.