Over 50,000 people have now been confirmed dead following the devastating Turkey earthquakes that also hit Syria. On Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag revealed that 184 suspects, including construction contractors and property owners, had already been arrested as part of an investigation into the disaster.
For years prior to the Turkey earthquake, experts had warned that endemic corruption and government policies meant that many new buildings were unsafe. More than 160,000 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey after the quakes, leading to questions about whether the natural disaster’s impact was made worse by human failings.
Among those who have been arrested is a mayor of one of the towns close to where the tremors hit, according to Turkish media reports. Mr Bozdag made his televised remarks from south-eastern Turkey, where the 7.8 magnitude quake struck and was followed by another powerful tremor just hours later.
Response of the investigation into the Turkey earthquake
The investigation into the Turkey earthquake has widened significantly since it was launched two weeks ago, with 113 arrest warrants initially issued. Opposition parties and some construction experts have been quick to capitalize on the public’s anger and have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration of failing to enforce building regulations and trying to divert overall blame for the disaster.
Government policies have allowed so-called amnesties for contractors who ignored building regulations, in order to encourage a construction boom, including in earthquake-prone regions. While Erdogan has admitted shortcomings, he has appeared to blame fate for the scale of the disaster, saying “such things have always happened. It’s part of destiny’s plan” during a recent visit to the region.
With elections on the horizon, Erdogan’s future is on the line after 20 years in power. While President Erdogan has admitted to shortcomings, his apparent reluctance to accept responsibility for the disaster and his attempts to shift blame onto fate have not gone down well with the public. His pleas for national unity have gone unheeded, and the opposition parties have continued to speak out against his administration’s handling of the disaster. The tragedy has highlighted the urgent need for reforms to ensure that the safety of the people is prioritized over economic interests.
Image Credit: AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel