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Turkey earthquake: Death toll nears 36,000

A week after the deadly earthquake that struck south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria, rescuers are continuing to free survivors from under rubble, including a 6-year-old boy and 88-year-old woman.

Reports now say the death toll is nearing 36,000, with another98,000-plus  injured, as of Monday morning (local time).

Also, officials have detained or issued arrest warrants for some 134 people allegedly involved in shoddy and illegal construction methods, according to ABC News.

As such, the focus has turned to who was to blame for not better preparing people in the earthquake-prone region that includes an area of Syria that was already suffering from years of civil war.

A recent ABC report says even though Turkey has, on paper, construction codes that meet current earthquake-engineering standards, they are too rarely enforced, explaining why thousands of buildings slumped onto their side or pancaked downward onto residents.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday (local time) that 131 people were being investigated for their alleged responsibility in the construction of buildings that failed to withstand the quakes, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

He said that three had been arrested pending trial, seven people were detained and seven others were barred from leaving the country.

Analysts say Turkey’s rarely enforced construction codes have resulted in thousands of buildings collapsing during quakes.

They note that the quakes were powerful, but victims, experts and people across Turkey are blaming bad construction for multiplying the devastation.

On Sunday, authorities at Istanbul Airport detained two contractors held responsible for the destruction of several buildings in Adiyaman, according to the private DHA news agency and other media.

The pair were reportedly on their way to Georgia.

Writing by Tony Okerafor