Türkiye has issued arrest warrants for 134 suspects involved in the faulty construction of buildings that collapsed in the earthquakes, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday. The catastrophic earthquakes have flattened more than 20,000 buildings across the 10 quake-affected regions. While the quakes were powerful, many in Türkiye blame faulty construction for multiplying the devastation.
Turkish police have already taken at least 12 people into custody, including building contractors.
Mehmet Yasar Coskun, the contractor of a large residential building in the hard-hit Hatay province, was also taken into custody on Saturday. Earlier, security forces arrested Coskun at Istanbul Airport on his way to Montenegro while attempting to leave Türkiye. Coskun claimed that he did not know why the building was destroyed, and that his flight to Montenegro had nothing to do with the collapsed building.
For years, experts warned that many new buildings in Türkiye were unsafe due to endemic corruption and government policies.
Those policies allowed so-called amnesties for contractors who swerved building regulations, in order to encourage a construction boom - including in earthquake-prone regions.
Thousands of buildings collapsed during the earthquake, raising questions about whether the natural disaster's impact was made worse by human failings.
The death toll from powerful earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye on Monday has risen to 29,605, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said.
It takes the total figure from both Türkiye and Syria, which is also affected by Monday's earthquakes, to over 33,000.
A survivor was rescued from the debris in Antakya, Türkiye, by Chinese and local rescuers on Sunday afternoon, 150 hours after the quake hit the region.