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Turkish authorities detain building contractors as quake deaths rise to over 33,000

Turkey Syria Earthquake
Posted at 8:24 PM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 20:25:17-05

Officials in Turkey are detaining people said to be involved in bad construction practices as the earthquake death toll in southern Turkey and northern Syria surpasses 33,000.

The 7.8 magnitude and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that hit the region on Feb. 6, just hours apart from each other, killed at least 33,179 people and toppled thousands of buildings.

Teams continued to search for survivors and locate more bodies among the rubble.

Sunday, Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said around 131 people were being investigated for alleged involvement in shoddy construction of buildings in the area that didn't withstand the quakes.

The region is prone to powerful earthquakes, but blame is being placed by people across Turkey on bad construction practices which they say exacerbated the horrifying situation.

Bozdag vowed to punish those deemed responsible for the collapse of buildings and confirmed on Sunday that at least three people had been arrested in connection to the investigation and were awaiting trial.

Others were detained and some were barred from leaving the country, according to local reports.

The devastation has captivated the country and the world. Turkey's news network HaberTurk's broadcast showed the rescue of a 6-year-old boy live as he was taken out from under debris at a former home in the hard-hit city of Adiyaman.

As rescues continued, prosecutors took building samples to use as evidence to prove the types of materials used in constructing the thousands of buildings that fell to the ground, or are now deemed unsafe.

Reports said at least two contractors had attempted to flee the country, but were detained by authorities at Istanbul Airport.