Turkey Cracks Down on Contractors of Earthquake-Damaged Buildings – Politico

Dozens of contractors were detained in Turkey over the weekend, as anger grew over the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the government vowed to crack down on construction negligence and defects.

The country’s vice president, Fuat Okte, said on Sunday that the government had already identified 131 people responsible for the collapse of thousands of buildings and the deaths of tens of thousands of people in 10 earthquake-ravaged provinces. He said, 114 people have been taken into custody.

“We will follow it meticulously until the necessary judicial process is completed, especially for the buildings that have been heavily damaged and those that have caused deaths and injuries,” he said.

Turkey’s justice ministry on Saturday ordered authorities in affected areas to form “earthquake criminal investigation departments” and appoint prosecutors to bring criminal charges against anyone who caused the collapse of poorly constructed buildings.

Turkey’s Emergency Coordination Center said on Sunday that the death toll had risen to more than 29,000.

About 80,278 people were injured in the earthquake. At least 218,406 search and rescue personnel were working in the field, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Environment Minister Murat Kurum said 24,921 buildings in the region collapsed or were heavily damaged by the earthquake, based on an assessment of more than 170,000 buildings.

Opposition politicians have publicly blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for not preparing the country for the disaster, mismanaging a special tax imposed after the last major earthquake in 1999 and making buildings more resilient. Slow relief efforts.

Meanwhile, German and Austrian rescue teams have suspended operations citing security concerns and reports of clashes, looting and gunfire. The German International Search and Rescue (ISAR) and Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) said they would resume operations as soon as AFAD classified the situation as safe.

Erdogan warned that the looters would be dealt with “firmly”, saying a state of emergency was declared in the affected province to allow authorities to act to prevent further incidents.

Among the arrested contractors was Mehmet Yasser Coskun, the contractor for a 12-story building in Hata with 250 apartments, once advertised as “a frame from heaven,” which was completely destroyed. He was arrested at Istanbul airport while trying to board a flight to Montenegro. About 1,000 people are believed to have lived in the residence and most of them are still under the rubble.

Another is Mehmet Ertan Akaye, after his building collapsed in the city of Gaziantep. He has been charged with reckless homicide and building code violations.

In a signal that the devastating earthquake could lead to the mending of Greece and Turkey’s fences, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dandios made a surprise visit to the country and visited the plains with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and met with Greek rescue teams. Earthquake zone. Tensions between the neighboring countries have been particularly high in recent months, especially as both governments plan to hold elections by summer.