- Associated Press - Saturday, February 9, 2019

ISTANBUL (AP) - The Latest on the Istanbul apartment building collapse (all times local):

6:44 p.m.

Turkey’s interior minister says authorities at one time made contact with a person under the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Istanbul.

But when asked to clarify, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Saturday that the person was “probably not living” anymore. He also told reporters that another body had been dug up, increasing the official death toll to 18.

The eight-story residential building in the Kartal district collapsed Wednesday.

Murat Kurum, the minister for environment and urban planning, said the building had permits for only six floors and had illegally built the top two floors with low quality concrete and sea sand instead of construction-grade concrete and stronger steel.

He called on residents to get their buildings checked to make sure they have followed construction codes.


2:55 p.m.

Funeral prayers have been performed for nine members of a family who died in the building collapse in Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, officials and hundreds of people attended the funeral Saturday.

The Alemdar family lived in the building that collapsed Wednesday in the mostly-residential Kartal district where 17 people died. The nine coffins were covered in green cloths.

Five other family members are among the 14 hospitalized.

The cause of Wednesday’s tragedy is under investigation but officials have said the top three floors of the eight-story building in the Kartal district were built illegally.

Speaking outside a hospital before the funeral, Erdogan said illegal construction “to make more money” caused “a very serious problem.”


2:15 p.m.

A relative of a woman missing in the rubble of an eight-story apartment building in Istanbul says he is hopeful that she may still be alive but denies earlier reports that she had been in contact with the family.

Ismail Ugurlu said his cousin Seyma Kambur and her two children, 5 and 9, were in the building that collapsed Wednesday. Ugurlu said “no one spoke to her on the phone.”

On Friday, another grief stricken cousin had told The Associated Press about an alleged conversation in which the 29-year-old Kambur reached her sister by phone from the rubble and said: “I am alive. There’s five of us together.”

Ugurlu told the AP on Saturday that “her sister absolutely didn’t directly speak to her.” He added: “We are trying not to lose hope.”

Authorities say Kambur and her children are still missing.


1:10 p.m.

Turkey’s president says there are “many lessons to learn” from the collapse of a residential building in Istanbul where at least 17 people have died.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to reporters Saturday from the scene where the eight-story building in Kartal district collapsed Wednesday.

He said the government would take “steps in a determined way” after investigators complete their work.

Earlier, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca increased the death toll to 17. Erdogan is also visiting a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation but officials have said the top three floors of the building were built illegally.


12:15 p.m.

Turkey’s interior minister has said the death toll in the collapse of an eight-story apartment building in Istanbul has risen to 16.

Suleyman Soylu said early Saturday that another body had been found in the rubble.

The building in Istanbul’s mostly-residential Kartal district collapsed on Wednesday. The cause is under investigation but officials have said its top three floors were illegally built.

Soylu was speaking to reporters at the site as emergency services continued their work.

Thirteen out of 14 people who were rescued alive remain hospitalized with seven of them in serious condition.

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