Death toll in Istanbul building collapse rises to 21: interior minister

Rescuers carry a girl on a stretcher at the site of a collapsed residential building in the Kartal district Istanbul Turkey

Rescuers carry a girl on a stretcher at the site of a collapsed residential building in the Kartal district Istanbul Turkey

Experts from the Istanbul branch of the chamber of civil engineers who visited the site concluded that the "load-bearing columns had lost the capacity to carry the weight" of the building.

As the overall death toll rose to 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there were "many lessons to learn" from the tragedy.

Turkey's interior minister says the death toll from a collapsed apartment building in Istanbul has risen to 21.

The building in Istanbul's mostly-residential Kartal district collapsed on Wednesday. He said rescuers had reached another person under the rubble, who was thought to be dead.

The cause is under investigation but officials have said its top three floors were illegally built.

After the prosecutor's office said it was looking into the cause of the incident, Turkish television stations immediately ended their live broadcasts from the scene.

Erdogan is also visiting a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated.

A majority of buildings in Istanbul are "either unlicensed, illegal or were constructed without any engineering services", they added.

The collapse fanned criticism of a government amnesty granted past year to people accused of illegal building - a measure announced ahead of municipal elections this March.

"We estimate that there were 35 people trapped under the rubble and we have now accounted for 35", he said while stressing that search operations would continue as before. Seven of the injured were still in serious condition on Saturday.

Anadolu news agency said 43 people were registered as living in the building.

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