Building collapses in Istanbul, killing 2
ISTANBUL, Turkey – An apartment building collapsed Thursday on a crowded street in Istanbul, and rescuers pulled two people from the rubble, local media said.As dusk fell, it was unclear whether anyone else was trapped beneath the debris.Mayor Kadir Topbas said the collapse was the result of “serious negligence” by a contractor hired to tear down a building next door. He said careless work had damaged the foundation of the apartment building.Local media said rescuers pulled two injured people from beneath the rubble. It was not immediately clear how seriously they were injured.Residents were evacuated from the building just before it collapsed when a “cracking” sound was heard, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said, adding that one or two reportedly had gone back inside to pick up their belongings.There were conflicting reports on whether the structure was six or eight stories.Vesile Vural, 55, said she saw the collapse from her apartment across the street.”There were construction workers working on a new building next door, we were watching that,” she said. “Then the other building collapsed all of a sudden. In a second, everything was under a cloud of dust.”The aftermath of the collapse was chaotic. Hundreds of rescuers in orange and red uniforms clambered over the rubble, and dogs crawled through spaces in the wreckage in a search for possible survivors.One elderly woman wept as she tried to lift debris with her bare hands.Other women wailed as they walked past the rubble and a large crowd gathered around the site. Rescuers appealed for quiet so they could hear whether people were trapped. Radiators, pipes, stoves and other household items jutted at odd angles from the pile.At dusk, rescuers set up lights on tripods and formed a human chain to remove debris.Authorities evacuated two other nearby buildings as a precaution, said district official Osman Develioglu.Building collapses are common in Turkey, where shoddy construction was blamed for the deaths of many of the 18,000 people who were killed during two massive earthquakes in 1999. Several contractors who were charged with negligence for ignoring building codes escaped punishment in February when statute-of-limitations expired in all ongoing cases that were filed in 1999.In February, a five-story apartment building collapsed in Istanbul, killing two people and injuring 26 others.Turkish rescuers often carry out earthquake drills in this sprawling city of more than 12 million, which experts believe could be hit by a huge quake sometime in the next 30 years.Geologists have urged the Turkish government to tear down some 50,000 buildings that would probably collapse in a big quake. They say hundreds of thousands of other buildings need to be reinforced.—Associated Press writers Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara and Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul contributed to this report.