The death toll from the Turkey-Syria earthquake soared past 28,000 killed this weekend, and many more thousands may still be buried under the rubble, as in many areas of the sprawling disaster zone, hundreds of miles wide, rescue operations have only barely begun.
Turkish officials estimate that around 25,000 buildings either totally collapsed or were severely damaged in the earthquake, and that more already shaken buildings could potentially collapse as a result of aftershocks and tremors.
But in a new development, “Approximately 130 people were arrested or are the target of arrest warrants issued by Turkish officials for their involvement in alleged faulty and illegal construction methods as rescue teams work to locate survivors in the wreckage of thousands of buildings downed by an earthquake nearly a week ago,” The Hill reports based on regional sources.
The arrest round-up is said to be the first major action of the newly established “Earthquake Crimes Investigation Offices” which will investigate malfeasance which contributed to the high number of buildings that collapsed.
“We will follow this up meticulously until the necessary judicial process is concluded, especially for buildings that suffered heavy damage and buildings that caused deaths and injuries,” a Turkish official said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed a tough response amid public finger-pointing and outrage among victims’ families, also given the sheer scale of the massive catastrophe, which left entire cities demolished – for example, the major city of Antakya in Hatay province.
The earthquake response is sure to be a front-and-centre issue as the Erdogan government heads into tough parliamentary and presidential elections set for May.