Turkey detains contractor who tried to flee country after quake building collapse

Turkey detains contractor who tried to flee country after quake building collapse

Turkish police on Friday detained a contractor trying to flee the country after his building collapsed in Turkey’s catastrophic earthquake, state media reported.

Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor and aftershocks destroyed large parts of southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, killing nearly 23,000 people.

The quake levelled thousands of buildings and has sparked outrage from victims and people across Turkey over the poor quality of housing.

Ronesans Residence, a block of high-rise luxury flats that toppled over in Antakya city, Hatay province, has sparked anger on social media.

Former Ghana international footballer Christian Atsu, who was caught up in the quake, is believed to be under the rubble of the 12-storey block of flats, which was built in 2013.

His sporting director at Hatayspor club, Taner Savut, is also trapped, local media said.

The 2013 date is particularly important because Turkey introduced tougher building regulations after a 1999 quake in northwestern Turkey killed more than 17,000 people.

Officers detained the contractor, Mehmet Yasar Coskun, at Istanbul airport as he tried to run away to Montenegro, state news agency Anadolu said.

He was allegedly carrying an unknown amount of money with him, but the agency did not detail exactly why police detained him.

Turkish media reported that “many” people remain underneath the block’s rubble and rescue efforts continue at the site, adding that the building also damaged others as it collapsed.

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