Bodies of workers killed in fire given to families

Bodies of workers killed in fire given to families

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Bodies of workers killed in fire given to families

Families of the deceased workers who died in a blaze in the construction area of a mall received the bodies of their loved ones from Institution of Forensic Medicine yesterday. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Seven families out of the 11 workers, who died in a blaze in the construction area of a mall on March 11, received the bodies of the deceased from the Institution of Forensic Medicine yesterday, following DNA tests.

Erol Seçen, the cousin of 23 year old worker Fatih Acun who died in the fire, said he was also working at the same construction site, but that he was able to survive the disaster.

“200 people have been working at the site. Unfortunately, we must continue to work, as we do not have any other chance to earn money,” Seçen said.

Another worker, 28 year old Sevdin Özer, came to Istanbul from earthquake-hit city Van two months ago, his brother-in-law Latif Ağaceğiz told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. “Sevdin came to Istanbul to leave the snowy tents of Van but he died in a tent here,” he said.

Family members had given DNA samples to the institution the previous day to identify the bodies. Another four bodies were still being held at the forensic institute as the Daily News went to print yesterday.

Most of the deceased came from northern province of Ordu and the southeastern provinces of Van, Bitlis and Sivas.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan commented on the fire during his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) group meeting in Ankara yesterday.

“We cannot accept the ones who earn billions of liras over these men’s labor and see the workers’ lives as so cheap to ignore their rights. We will take the necessary measures for other workers not to lose their lives again. I have given instructions, we will realize the precautions to minimize such labor accidents,” Erdoğan said. He also added that the government would be following the investigation closely.

Istanbul Mayor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said nobody had yet been detained over the fire.

Andreas Holhmann, General Manager of ECE Türkiye which owns the mall under construction, issued a press release yesterday saying the company was in deep sorrow and expressed its condolences to the families for their loses.

The workers were employed by Kaldem Construction, a subcontractor of ECE Türkiye, the Turkish branch of the Germany-based ECE Company. They were working on the construction of a new mall called Marmara Park. The fire is thought to have been started by electric heaters and spread quickly due to the fabric of the tents. Following an investigation at the site, officials announced that the tents where workers slept did not have exit doors at both sides and that their material was not fire-proof. The subcontractor company denies any responsibility.