Image: Turkish building collapse
AFP - Getty Images
Rescuers search through the debris of an apartment building that collapsed in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday.
updated 4/26/2007 1:14:41 PM ET 2007-04-26T17:14:41

An eight-story apartment building collapsed in Istanbul on Thursday, and rescuers pulled one survivor from the debris, officials said.

It was unclear if anyone else was trapped in the rubble.

“We just reached one person under the debris, and his health is good,” said firefighter chief Orhan Akyildiz.

Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said authorities had largely evacuated the building when “cracking” was heard about a half-hour before the collapse. He added, however, that one or two people reportedly had re-entered the building to pick up their belongings.

The collapse occurred when workers were trying to demolish an adjacent building, said Mayor Kadir Topbas.

A large crowd gathered as rescue workers searched for survivors. Residents of nearby buildings were evacuated from neighboring buildings, including some carrying babies, according to TV reports.

One elderly woman wept as she tried to lift debris with her bare hands and other women wailed as they walked past the rubble. A policeman comforted and prevented a crying teenaged boy from approaching the site.

Rescuers called for quiet in order to hear if people were trapped inside.

Such collapses are common in Turkey, where shoddy construction was blamed for the deaths of thousands of people during two massive earthquakes in 1999.

In February, a five-story apartment building collapsed in Istanbul, killing two people and injuring 26 others.

Turkish rescuers often carry out earthquake drills in Istanbul to test the preparedness of this sprawling city of more than 12 million, which experts believe could be hit by a huge quake sometime in the next 30 years.

Geologists have urged the Turkish government since 1999 — when two earthquakes west of Istanbul killed more than 18,000 people — to tear down some 50,000 buildings that would probably collapse if a big quake hit Istanbul.

They say hundreds of thousands of other buildings need to be reinforced.

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