Girl, 5, pulled alive from rubble after apartment block collapses

A five-year-old girl has been rescued from the rubble of an eight-storey apartment building which collapsed in Istanbul.

Turkish officials said 10 people have died in the disaster in the Kartal district after the block came down around 4pm local time on Wednesday.

Another 13 people have been pulled out suffering injuries, including three who were seriously hurt.

Turkish child Havva Tekgoz is evacuated by rescuers at the site
Image: Turkish child Havva Tekgoz is evacuated by rescuers at the site

Havva Tekgov, five, was rescued from the debris and placed on a stretcher 18 hours after the disaster.

As she was placed in an ambulance, a person in the crowd chanted “God is great” before the child was taken to hospital.

Rescue workers search the rubble of the building which collapsed in the Kartal district
Image: Rescue workers search the rubble of the building

Her rescue came hours after a nine-year-old boy was pulled out alive.

Emergency teams worked around the clock in search of survivors after the collapse put the spotlight on illegal construction.

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The tragedy also raised alarms over the possibility of major destruction if a large earthquake hit the city.

Rescue workers search the rubble of an eight-storey building after it collapsed
Image: The block collapsed in the Kartal district of Istanbul

Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said of the injured: “All our prayers, all our hearts are with them.

“We are continuing with our search and rescue efforts so that we can deliver good news (about survivors).”

At the time of the disaster, around 43 people were living in the building, which had 14 apartments.

Image: Around 43 people were living in the building, which had 14 apartments

Neighbour Cemile Dag said the collapse was a haunting reminder of the deadly earthquake that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.

She said: “At first I thought a gas tank had exploded in our building. I looked behind me and the building, like a deck of cards, fell to the ground. There were wails, screaming.”

Authorities said the top three floors had been illegally built and the cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

A majority of buildings in Istanbul are “either unlicensed, illegal or were constructed without any engineering services,” according to the country’s chamber of civil engineers.

Relatives of victims still trapped under the rubble look at the ongoing rescue operation
Image: Relatives of victims still trapped under the rubble look on as the rescue operation continues

Can Akin, of the Chamber of Geology Engineers, said many of the buildings were constructed without an adequate investigation of the ground conditions.

He said: “Istanbul is situated on a seismic belt.

“In the event of an earthquake in Istanbul, we could be faced with a dire picture.”

It comes after Turkey’s emergency management agency, AFAD, warned in August that up to 30,000 people could be killed in Istanbul if a magnitude-7.5 earthquake hit, with an estimated collapse of 44,802 buildings.

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