Live updates: Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll rises to over 36,000

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Turkish authorities have arrested a number of Turkish contractors and detained many after allegedly being connected to quake constructions in Turkey over the weekend and Monday, after two major earthquakes struck Turkey on February 6.

During his visit to Diyarbakir on Monday, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said in a presser that in “all earthquake-affected places, the public prosecutor’s office launched judicial investigation. In terms of law, all evidence is evaluated and we are identifying the names of the people responsible for these buildings.”

Bozdag pointed out that “some of the buildings are 30 years old, some are older, some are 20, and some were built in the near future, so our municipalities have this information,” and added that “audits are subject to the evaluation of this information, and our public prosecutors carry out investigations to determine who is involved in these constructions.”

Bozdag also mentioned that in Diyarbakir alone, “the judicial process against 32 people has been started.” 

According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, Malatya prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 31 people on Monday over collapsed buildings in the city.

Anadolu also reported last Saturday that Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the destroyed buildings, and as a result of that, 31 people were arrested on Monday. 

More on contractor arrests: Nazmi Tosun, the construction supervisor and technical representative of Emre Apartment, which was destroyed in Gaziantep province, was arrested in Istanbul on early Monday, Anadolu reported, citing the security forces. 

Another contractor was Mustafa Uncuoglu who was arrested in Istanbul on Saturday. Uncuoglu was the contractor for the Bahar apartment in Gaziantep province. At least nine people died who used to live in Bahar apartment, Anadolu reported.  

The Istanbul police force also arrested another contractor, Mehmet Ertan Akay, the contractor of a large residential building in the hard-hit Hatay province after his building collapsed during the quake in Gaziantep.

The Turkish security forces arrested Mehmet Yasar Coskun on Saturday at Istanbul Airport on his way to Montenegro while attempting to leave Turkey. Coskun was the contractor of a large residential building in Hatay province. He claimed that he did not know why his building collapsed and that his flight to Montenegro had nothing to do with his collapsed building, Anadolu reported. 

The Turkish Police also arrested Hasan Alpargun in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus after some buildings made by his construction company collapsed in the southern Adana province over the weekend, Anadolu reported, citing the security forces. 

Yavuz Karakus, the contractor of many destroyed buildings in Adıyaman, and his wife Sevilay Karakuş were taken into custody at Istanbul airport on Sunday, according to Anadolu. The Karakus couple were the contractors of many buildings destroyed in Adıyaman. They were later detained in Istanbul. Anadolu reported that they had $16,000 and an additional 20,000 Turkish liras ($1,061,30) with them in Istanbul airport.

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