Turkey's president visits Istanbul building collapse site

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The seven-storey block in the Kartal district on the Asian side of the city collapsed on February 6 but the cause is not yet clear.

Mourners attend the funeral prayers for nine members of Alemdar family killed in a collapsed apartment building, in Istanbul, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.

The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in Istanbul rose to 21 on February 9, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said authorities have "lessons to learn" from the incident.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has increased the death toll to 17.

He said the government would take "steps in a determined way" after investigators complete their work.

"Those who are responsible will be held to account", Soylu said. He said someone had illegally built its top two floors with low quality concrete and sea sand instead of construction-grade concrete and stronger steel.

Erdogan also visited a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated.

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A majority of buildings in Istanbul are "either unlicensed, illegal or were constructed without any engineering services", they added.

The collapse fanned criticism of a government amnesty granted past year to people accused of an illegal building - a measure announced ahead of municipal elections this March.

Friends and relatives have been waiting near the apartment building for news of their missing loved ones as emergency teams, aided by sniffer dogs, worked around the clock.

Two days after the collapse, rescue workers managed to save a 16-year-old buy from the rubble.

Authorities haven't disclosed how many people remain unaccounted for.

Thirty residents were inside the building, which contained 14 apartments, when it collapsed Wednesday, Anadolu said.

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