At least 15 die as building collapses in Turkey

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The Independent Online

Rescue workers today used drills and their bare hands to search for dozens of people feared trapped beneath the rubble of an 11-storey apartment building that collapsed in central Turkey, killing at least 15 people and injuring 30 others.

Rescue workers today used drills and their bare hands to search for dozens of people feared trapped beneath the rubble of an 11-storey apartment building that collapsed in central Turkey, killing at least 15 people and injuring 30 others.

Officials at the site said between 40 and 100 people were feared to be buried in the debris and the death toll could climb sharply once rescue workers stopped searching for survivors and began clearing out the rubble.

The floors of the building had mostly collapsed on top of each other, leaving a pile of concrete roughly two stories high. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others blamed shoddy construction for the collapse.

Twelve people were pulled out of the rubble, including a middle-aged woman, who appeared to be conscious and moved her hands as she was evacuated on a stretcher. Rescuers clapped and cheered, but admitted that there was little hope of finding many more survivors.

"I don't see much chance of life," said Hakan Korkut, an official of the private search and rescue team, AKUT. "There are only a few air pockets, the rest is like powder."

But Gov. Ahmet Kayhan said voices were still being heard from inside of the building.

"There are still voices and therefore there is still hope of rescuing people alive," Kayhan said. "Our friends are doing their best to rescue them alive."

At least 15 people were killed and 30 others were evacuated from the building, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Hatice Kubra Turkoglu, a mother in her thirties, was one of those pulled from the rubble Tuesday.

"I dug at the soil with my hands and I was shouting," Turkoglu said. "My husband was near me but I don't know whether he is alive or dead."

A 2-year-old girl was among the dead, officials said.

"We heard a gigantic crash," said Yeter Oguz, the owner of a pastry shop near the collapsed building. "There was so much dust in the air that it took us 10 minutes to figure out which building collapsed."

Dozens of rescue workers combed through the rubble wearing face masks to protect themselves from the dust of the pulverized concrete that once made up the walls of the building.

One rescuer carried a panicked man out of the rubble, while a young girl helped an elderly woman walk away from the wreckage. A distressed middle-aged woman wandered around, calling out the names of her loved ones.

The building had some 140 residents in 37 apartments, officials said, but it was unclear how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse. Officials said at least 18 residents were not in the building at the time it fell. Monday was Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday when people traditionally visit friends and relatives.

Rescuers used digging equipment and their bare hands to search for survivors. From time to time, loudspeakers asked for silence as rescuers listened for signs from those who might be trapped.

Critics often complain about shoddy construction in Turkey and have blamed it for high death tolls in past earthquakes and other disasters.

On Saturday, two wooden buildings collapsed in Istanbul, killing six people and injuring one other. In June, a dormitory housing high school students collapsed after what appeared to be a gas explosion, killing 10 students.

In May, a dormitory in eastern Turkey collapsed during a magnitude 6.4-earthquake, killing 84 students. Critics blamed the building's collapse on shoddy construction.

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