The death toll rose to at least 15 in the collapse of an eight-story apartment building in Istanbul, Turkish officials said on Friday, but a 16-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble, still alive after almost two days buried under the debris.
The updated death toll was confirmed by Turkey’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca. The interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, told a news conference near the scene, in the Kartal district on the Asian side of the Bosporus, that another 14 people were being treated in hospitals.
The search for possible survivors in the wreckage continued, and news reports said rescue workers were concentrating on an area where a voice, believed to be that of a 30-year-old woman, had been heard.
Turkish news media reported that before the building fell, columns had been severed and a wall demolished to enlarge a ground-floor textile workshop.
Turkey has a history of shoddy construction practices, a factor that was blamed for the high death toll in the 1999 earthquake that struck near Izmit, about 55 miles southeast of Istanbul.
In the past, cutting columns at the risk of weakening the building was a common tactic in building alterations. Builders have also frequently cut costs by using substandard materials.
Mr. Soylu said that any claims about the cause of the disaster should be considered mere rumors, and that nothing would be definitive until the prosecutor’s office announced its findings.
“Naturally all of us, when such a building has collapsed, in the natural course of events think whether pillars were severed,” Mr. Soylu said. “But this doesn’t mean it happened.”
The 1999 earthquake registered magnitude 7.4, killing more than 17,000 people and destroying tens of thousands of buildings. In the aftermath, the government has pushed to modernize aging urban dwellings.
Orignially published in NYT.