The southeastern Şanlıurfa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation upon the completion of the search and rescue operations carried out in the province in the aftermath of the two major earthquakes on Feb. 6.
For the investigation, an expert team that consists of scientists, law enforcement officers and jurists has been formed. The team collected samples from the rubbles in the province and their first report has revealed significant issues with the adoption and enforcement of the required construction standards in the demolished buildings.
"According to our first analysis, we have detected serious material defects. Of course, we will finalize these (results) after the laboratory findings. We see that the concrete's sand-gravel size distribution (in demolished buildings) is ill-suited," Prof. Kasım Mermertaş from Harran University was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu Agency.
When the team investigated one of the buildings where 33 people died, they could not even analyze if the structure was built in line with the regulations due to the complete collapse of the building. They were able to only check what kind of material was used for the structure and detected severe material defects.
Prof. Mermertaş stated that there are problems with the quality of cement and structural iron, but their results will be finalized after the laboratory tests later on.
One of the factors affecting the quality of the constructions is that most of them were built before 1999, the year of the İzmit Earthquake that led to substantial changes in the building control law and regulations throughout the country.
As the death toll exceeds 20,000 in the aftermath of the Feb. 6-dated major earthquakes in southeastern Turkey, public outrage is growing.
People have been pointing out that monitoring of the construction regulations only exists on paper. The widespread catastrophe is interpreted as an indication that there are significant issues with the adoption and enforcement of the required construction standards.
Earlier this week, 170 lawyers filed a joint criminal complaint, demanding that authorities launch an investigation into the contractors of the demolished buildings and ban them from leaving the country pending trial.