Investigation launched into deaths of Syrian workers in Ankara furniture workshop fire
Turkey’s Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry has assigned inspectors to investigate the causes of a fire at an Ankara furniture workshop on Jan. 16 which killed five Syrian workers.
“We tasked the inspectors as soon as we heard about the incident. If there is negligence, necessary penalties will be imposed,” Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk said on Jan. 17.
Five Syrian workers were killed in the fire that erupted in the four-story furniture workshop at an Ankara shopping market on Jan. 16.
Their death was reported to be caused by smoke inhalation after they went to the upper floors of the workshop to escape the fire that erupted on the second floor.
Following the investigation launched by Ankara prosecutors, 17 people were interrogated, including two owners of the company.
The fire possibly erupted following electricity contact which set sponges on fire, fire authorities and crime scene investigation units said following the deadly incident.
But it was later revealed that the building had only one exit and did not have a fire exit.
The Regulation on Protecting Buildings from Fires stipulates that at least two exits are obligatory in “a place occupied by more than 50 people” or in “a high and dangerous building occupied by more than 25 people.”
Syrian workers work in precarious labor conditions and are hired mostly because employees do not want to pay their insurance or minimum wage.
“Insurance premiums are really expensive and shopkeepers do not make money. For cheap labor, they [shopkeepers] tend to hire Syrians. The state needs to step in for insurance,” one storekeeper, whose name was not disclosed, was quoted as saying by Demirören News Agency on Jan. 17.