ANTAKYA, Turkey — As rescuers still pull a lucky few from the rubble six days after a pair of earthquakes devastated southeast Turkey and northern Syria, Turkish officials detain or issue arrest warrants for some 130 people allegedly involved in the construction of buildings that toppled down and crushed their occupants.
The death toll from Monday’s quakes stood at 28,191 — with another 80,000-plus injured — as of this morning and was certain to rise as bodies kept emerging.
As despair also bred rage at the agonizingly slow rescue efforts, the focus has turned to who was to blame for not better preparing people in the earthquake-prone region that includes an area of Syria that was already suffering from years of civil war.
Even though Turkey has, on paper, construction codes that meet current earthquake-engineering standards, they are too rarely enforced, explaining why thousands of buildings slumped onto their side or pancaked downward onto residents.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay says that warrants have been issued for the detention of 131 people suspected to being responsible for collapsed buildings.
Turkey’s justice minister has vowed to punish anyone responsible, and prosecutors have begun gathering samples of buildings for evidence on materials used in constructions. The quakes were powerful, but victims, experts and people across Turkey are blaming bad construction for multiplying the devastation.