Feb. 6 survivor says collapsed building that killed 40 marketed as 'quake resistant'

During the hearing for the building collapse that killed 40 during the Feb. 6 earthquakes in southeastern Turkey, complainant Seda Fidancan stated that the building was marketed as “earthquake resistant,” and caused 12 deaths within the family. 

The Sami Bey Apartment is one of the few collapsed buildings in the Adana province, shown here with its neighbors standing.

Duvar English

The second hearing for the collapsed “Sami Bey Apartment” in Turkey’s southern Adana province was held at the Adana Penal Court. 

The 16-story building in Adana’s Çukurova district collapsed during the first Feb. 6 earthquake and killed 40 people. 

The Earthquake Investigation Bureau, established under the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, investigated and brought charges against the father-daughter contractors for “causing the deaths of multiple people through conscious negligence” in Adana’s 4th High Criminal Court. The prosecutor asks for 22.5 years for each defendant. 

The second hearing took place without the presence of Abdullah Aybaba, who had a warrant for his arrest, and his daughter Eda Aybaba Çelik, who fled abroad and was issued a red notice.

Complainant Seda Fidancan testified at the hearing. Fidancan was not at home during the earthquakes by chance, but lost 12 relatives including her parents and sibling, according to reporting by the Demirören News Agency (DHA).

 "When we purchased the apartment where my parents stayed, we spoke with defendant Abdullah Aybaba. He assured us that the building had a rail system, was solid, and earthquake-resistant. The building collapsed in the first tremor,” stated Fidancan. 

The complainant believed the contractors committed “murder” by falsely representing the building to prospective buyers and demanded the harshest punishment for the defendants.

Another complainant’s lawyer Hasan Murt claimed the defendants were United Kingdom citizens, but received information indicating Abdullah Aybaba was still in Turkey. The lawyer requested the court to further investigate the whereabouts of the contractors.

Additionally, in the case that the contractors were abroad, the lawyers requested their extradition from the UK and for their assets to be frozen in the meantime. 

The court postponed the hearing, pending the defendants' capture.

The 7.7 and 7.8-magnitude Feb. 6 earthquakes affected 11 provinces in southern and southeastern Turkey and caused 53,537 deaths, 107,213 injuries, and 38,901 destroyed buildings.

Adana was among the least affected provinces, with 13 buildings collapsed and 454 deceased. The relatively small extent of the damage in the province revealed significant building irregularities in the collapsed structures. 

The Sami Bey Apartment was one of these buildings, killing 40 residents in the collapse.