Eleven workers perish as blaze sweeps through tents

Eleven workers perish as blaze sweeps through tents

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Eleven workers perish as blaze sweeps through tents

Following an investigation at the site, officials announced that the tents where workers slept did not have exit doors at both sides and their material was not fire protected. AA photo

A fire that broke out at a construction site in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district has killed 11 workers who were sleeping in their tents on the night of March 11.

Police detained 11 people yesterday including the construction site supervisor and work safety chief. 

The fire erupted around 9 p.m. in one of the tents and soon spread through the entire site, engulfing the workers in their sleep. Some workers were killed by the fire while others died of smoke inhalation, according to reports.

Witnesses at the construction site said some of the deceased workers were from the eastern province of Van, and that they had migrated to Istanbul after the province was struck by a 6.9 earthquake in October.
Bilal Tavşan, one of the surviving workers, said they tried to rescue their friends caught in the middle of the fire, but they failed due to intense smoke. Tavşan also said he had come from the northern province of Ordu nearly three months ago to earn 70 Turkish Liras a day.

One worker suggested the electric heaters in the tents might have been a cause for the fire, although Esenyurt Mayor Necmi Kadıoğlu said authorities had determined the blaze started in the tent’s kitchen. 

Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik left Ankara late yesterday afternoon to visit the site of the accident in Istanbul. He said they had been told there were three electric heaters in one tent. “We need to find out how many workers were staying in one tent. We are investigating the incident to understand the extent of the negligence.” Çelik also said they were looking into the problems that occurred during the emergency evacuation and checking to see whether the plastic covering the tents was in accordance with regulations. 

Meanwhile, Istanbul Mayor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said there was a high possibility the fire broke out because of electrically operated heaters. 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he would personally visit the scene to investigate the fire. The CHP has also sent a team of party officials to investigate the case. 

The workers were employed by Kayı Construction, a subcontractor of ECE Türkiye, the Turkish branch of the Germany-based ECE company, daily Evrensel reported on its website. They were working on the construction of a new mall called Marmara Park.

ECE Türkiye and the company refused to answer the Hürriyet Daily News’ questions about the fire and the claims of negligence. 

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