Death toll of Turkey building collapse rises

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to residents as he visits the site of a collapsed building in Istanbul, on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Death toll of Turkey building collapse rises

  • The apartment building collapsed in Istanbul's Kartal District on Feb. 9

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s interior minister says the death toll from a collapsed apartment building in Istanbul has risen to 21.

Minister Suleyman Soylu spoke late Saturday, saying those who made “mistakes” would be held accountable. The eight-story building in the city’s Kartal district collapsed on Wednesday.

Thirteen people pulled from the rubble have been hospitalized and seven remain in intensive care. Chief Doctor Recep Demirhan says that two are in very serious condition, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

Turkey’s president on Saturday visited the scene of the apartment building collapse in Istanbul for the first time, saying there were “many lessons to learn.”

The cause of Wednesday’s tragedy is under investigation but officials have said the top three floors of the eight-story 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.

Erdogan was also visiting a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated. Seven of them 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. 

The collapse fanned criticism of a government amnesty granted last year to people accused of illegal building — a measure announced ahead of municipal elections this March.

Engineers and architects regularly sound the alarm against illegal additional storeys to buildings which they say weaken the constructions’ structure, and put them at greater risk in the event of an earthquake.


Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

Updated 18 July 2019
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Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

  • Authorities estimate the mosquer dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries
  • Rare to find house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers

RAHAT, Israel: Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques, built around the time Islam arrived in the holy land, they said on Thursday.
The Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that the mosque, uncovered ahead of new construction in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert, dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries.
There are large mosques known to be from that period in Jerusalem and in Makkah but it is rare to find a house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers, the antiquities authority said.
Excavated at the site were the remains of an open-air mosque — a rectangular building, about the size of a single-car garage, with a prayer niche facing south toward Makkah.
“This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 C.E.,” said Gideon Avni of the antiquities authority.
“The discovery of the village and the mosque in its vicinity are a significant contribution to the study of the history of the country during this turbulent period.”