Hundreds under investigation in Turkey for constructing unsafe buildings

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By Isabella Jewell
Samandag, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023
Samandag, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023   -  Copyright  Emrah Gurel/AP

More than 600 people are being investigated in Turkey in relation to buildings that collapsed in the devastating earthquakes earlier this month.

According to the Turkish Minister of Justice, contractors and building owners are among 184 people already jailed pending trial.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks killed thousands in Turkey and Syria when they hit earlier this month, displacing some two million people.

Teams are working on clearing the rubble, after a several-week long scrabble to find survivors trapped in their buildings.

Shukran Iyisoylu, who was affected by the earthquake in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, said that many of people's most "important and valuable things" have remained inside their ruined houses.

Another resident, Abdullah Karim, said: "They [the government] have not allowed us even to take out a single needle... Goods and household items worth 500 to 600,000 liras [25,000 to 30,000 euros] remain inside our house." 

The Turkish government says that 1.3 million buildings have been inspected so far, and of that number, 173,000 had either collapsed or were so badly damaged that they need to be demolished.

Shortly after the earthquake, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to rebuild the destroyed houses within a year, a pledge which has concerned experts who say that quality earthquake-proof buildings need to be prioritised over speedy and low-quality apartments to minimise the impact of future quakes.