Twenty-six buildings in Istanbul's Kağıthane district were evacuated after Monday's collapse of a four-story building. Minister of Environment and Urban Development Murat Kurum visited the site of the collapsed building and said they would include the area in an ambitious "urban transformation" project. The project is a government plan to replace unsafe buildings with newer and stronger ones and is already underway in several districts of the city dotted with decrepit residential buildings.
The residential building in Kağıthane collapsed soon after it was evacuated after the retaining wall of an adjacent, empty construction site collapsed. Locals had blamed the owners of the construction site who abandoned it after breaking ground. Kağıthane, partly located in a steep region on Istanbul's European side, is prone to collapses due to its location but this did not stop the development of the area where old building neighbor construction sites set one level below or above them on the outskirts of a hill.
Kurum told reporters yesterday that they were examining the area to survey the safety of the buildings and the conclusion of the analysis will be followed by an urban transformation project in the area where more buildings under risk might be evacuated. "There are 68 buildings with 600 apartments here, and we want to conclude the analysis as soon as possible. We will then negotiate with tenants and draft a plan for transformation. New buildings will have fewer floors," Kurum said. He added that a criminal complaint was also filed against the construction company neighboring the collapsed building and investigators would now probe whether the company was responsible for the collapse. The minister said initial findings show the ground did not pose a risk for building, and they were now examining whether there was a problem with infrastructure. "It appears that the retaining wall collapsed as it was left in the open for a long time [without finishing touches] and the investigation will find out whether there were errors in the wall's construction," he added.