konya turkey, turkey dorm collapse, dorm collapse
Associated Press
Rescue workers search for possible survivors after a three-story dormitory housing female
students collapsed. (AP)

Girls’ Dormitory Collapses in Turkey; At Least 17 Dead

August 01, 2008 12:21 PM
by Anne Szustek
At least 17 female students were killed and another 27 were injured after an explosion leveled a three-floor residence hall near the central Turkish city of Konya.

30-Second Summary

Reports from the Associated Press as of 9:15 a.m. EDT Friday said that another six girls were trapped under the wreckage. The concrete building housed some 40–45 girls aged 8–16, who were taking a state-funded Koran course during summer vacation.

Mehmet Demirgül, the mayor of the village of Balcilar, where the dormitory is located, originally pointed to a gas canister explosion as the cause of the building collapse but later told the press that a leaking gas pipe set off the blast.

Merve Avci, one of the surviving students, told Turkish state wire service Anatolian News Agency that she and her teachers heard “a strange sound” before dawn prayers. After seeing a loose gas pipe, Avci was instructed to close the door and she returned to her room. Not much later she saw flames shoot up from the basement.

Shoddy construction has been blamed for the collapse of at least four high-density residences over the past five years in the country—a problem exacerbated by Turkey’s extreme earthquake risk. Last year, two apartment buildings crashed in Istanbul; two people were killed in the first collapse. In 2003, 83 children died in the southeastern city of Bingöl when their dorm caved in. The following year, in Konya—the same province where the girls’ dorm collapsed Friday—92 people died in the crash of an 11-story apartment tower.

A January 2000 dorm fire at Seton Hall University shed attention on residence hall safety in the United States. With three casualties, it was the deadliest dorm fire in America.

See AP coverage

Headline Link: ‘Dormitory Collapse in Turkey Kills 17’

Background: Konya; recent building collapses in Turkey

Konya, Turkey
Recent building collapses in Turkey

Related Topic: Recent dormitory tragedies elsewhere


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