Death Toll Approaches 30,000 And Over 100 Detained As Government Targets Building Contractors


The Turkish government detained more than 100 building contractors and others who may be responsible for the collapsed buildings and deaths this week, according to the New York Times, as the death toll from the earthquake that hit the region Monday surpassed 28,000.

Key Facts

Turkey’s justice ministry established the “Earthquake Crimes Investigation Units,” according to the state-run Anadolu News Agency, resulting in more than 100 being detained this week for having failed to meet construction codes.

Turkey’s health ministry estimates the death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake reached 24,617 Saturday.

The death toll in government-controlled regions in northern Syria remains at 1,347, with 2,295 others injured, according to Syria’s health ministry—though the office has not updated its estimates since February 9.

A death toll for the country’s rebel-held area in the northwest—where residents have relied on humanitarian aid because of Syria’s decade-long civil war—has increased to 2,167, according to the Syrian Civil Defense.

While discussing humanitarian relief efforts, United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said the earthquake is the “worst event in 100 years in this region,” according to Reuters.

The U.S. military began deploying forces to assist with relief efforts Friday, according to the Washington Post, following an announcement by Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Wednesday.

Big Number

13 million. That’s how many people have been affected by the earthquake across 10 provinces in Turkey, according to Anadolu’s estimates.

Surprising Fact

In a separate set of arrests Saturday, Turkish officials detained 98 suspects for alleged looting and for prank calling affected victims, sources told Anadolu, after seizing at least $14,700 in stolen cash among other goods, including laptops, guns and jewelry.

Key Background

The earthquake—the deadliest in the world since 2011—toppled residential buildings, shopping centers, mosques and offices just after 4 a.m. Monday morning, with an epicenter about 20 miles east of Gaziantep. Nearly 26,000 search and rescue workers in Turkey—in addition to added support from more than a dozen countries—are on the ground searching for survivors, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. The World Health Organization warned the death toll could reach above 20,000 in an announcement Tuesday, an estimate that was eclipsed Wednesday.

Further Reading

Turkey’s ‘Biggest Disaster In The Last Century’: Earthquake Death Toll Crosses 21,000 (Forbes)

Worst Earthquakes—And Where Turkey’s Fits in: The 10 Deadliest And 10 Strongest Ones Since 1950 (Forbes)

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