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28 hurt in Turkey building collapse

The reason for the collapse was not immediately known.

world Updated:


Two women were killed and 28 other people injured when a five-storey building collapsed on Wednesday in a popular Istanbul neighbourhood, officials said.

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler told the semi-official Anatolia news agency that one of the injured, a seven-year-old girl, was in critical condition.

The reason for the collapse, which happened in the working-class Zeytinburnu district, on the European shore of the city, was not immediately known.

But Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas speculated that the columns holding up the structure might have been weakened by the heat from the oven of a bakery that occupied the ground floor for about a decade.

Bulent Gunduz, the leader of one of the rescue teams on the scene, said a freshly poured layer of concrete on the roof of the building may have been the cause.

"A 20-centimetre (8-inch) concrete plaque was recently added," he told the Anatolia news agency. "This may have perturbed the building's static balance and caused it to collapse, starting from the roof."

The search for survivors ended near noon (1000 GMT) as rescue teams left and heavy machinery was brought in to clear the debris.

The search was initially suspended in the morning, when inhabitants of the building said all 30 residents were accounted for, but resumed briefly after a two and a half hour break when workers said they picked up signals from under the rubble, the NTV news channel reported.

Fire department, civil defense and volunteer rescue teams with sniffer dogs and sound detectors sifted through the debris under arc lights for nearly eight hours before before stopping their initial search.

Adjoining buildings were evacuated and the area remained cordoned off by police.

Witnesses and survivors told reporters that the toll could have been much higher, but the staff of a ground floor teahouse heard cracking sounds and rang all the doorbells, urging residents to evacuate the building.

Many said they were on the stairs or had just stepped outside when the structure fell. At least one member of the teahouse staff was among the injured.

Many buildings in the district were screened for structural damage after a 1999 earthquake that devastated northwest Turkey, killing more than 20,000 people.

But the collapsed building was not among those listed as damaged, said Topbas, who was speaking at the scene of the collapse.