Turkey expands probe into construction sector after earthquake

Turkish authorities have expanded a criminal probe into individuals responsible for buildings leveled by a deadly earthquake, with 564 suspects identified, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the interior minister.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6 and its aftershocks have killed more than 43,000 people in Turkey and left millions without homes.

“One hundred sixty of them have been arrested, 18 are in police custody and 175 have been released on bail,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in an interview on the state-run TRT Haber late Wednesday.

“We have banned all of those under investigation from travelling. Nothing is more precious than human life. We are being thorough.”Tens of thousands of buildings collapsed without warning following the violent earthquake as many people slept.

Turkish media has criticized developers for using shoddy materials and failing to comply with building codes.

In the face of growing anger, several developers were arrested in the first days following the earthquake.

“A total of 1,250,000 buildings were examined in 11 provinces, and 164,321 buildings comprising 520,000 independent units have already been destroyed, severely damaged or urgently need to be demolished,” Environment Minister Murat Kurum announced on Thursday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced plans to rebuild 270,000 homes in the devastated provinces within one year.

“We are making plans taking into account the cultural landscape, our children’s future and guaranteeing our towns are on safe ground,” Kurum added.

“We will build the new housing with this in mind.”

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