ANTAKYA: — Turkish authorities are targeting contractors allegedly linked with buildings that collapsed in the powerful Feb. 6 earthquakes as rescuers found more survivors in the rubble Sunday, including a pregnant woman and two children, in the disaster that killed over 33,000 people.
The death toll from the magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes that struck nine hours apart in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria rose to 33,185 and was certain to increase as search teams find more bodies.
As despair bred rage at the agonizingly slow rescues, the focus turned to assigning blame.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 131 people were under investigation for their alleged responsibility in the construction of buildings that failed to withstand the quakes. While the quakes were powerful, many in Turkey blame faulty construction for multiplying the devastation.
Turkey’s construction codes meet current earthquake-engineering standards, at least on paper, but they are rarely enforced, explaining why thousands of buildings toppled over or pancaked down onto the people inside.