updated 2/10/2004 3:37:58 PM ET 2004-02-10T20:37:58

The death toll from the collapse of a Turkish apartment block eight days ago has risen to 92 and rescue workers believe there are at least two more bodies still buried under the rubble, Turkish media said on Tuesday.

“We are missing two people according to information we received from the operation crisis center,” rescue worker Mustafa Yalcin told the Anatolia state news agency.

“We still have hope of finding people alive,” he said.

Officials have blamed faulty construction for the collapse of the 36-apartment building on February 2 in the central Turkish city of Konya. Police have arrested two contractors over the incident.

The building came down during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha when some families were entertaining guests, making it difficult to estimate the total number of people trapped.

Turkish television put the latest death toll at 92 on Tuesday. Anatolia said the rescue operation, which included 172 civil defense personnel, nearly 400 firemen and volunteers and six sniffer dogs, was starting to wind down. Turkey’s poor building standards and widespread graft have often been blamed for building collapses and the high death tolls from earthquakes that often strike the country, but few builders or developers have been convicted.

The Zaman newspaper said many residents had known their building suffered construction deficiencies because of cracks in the walls, which it said they tried to hide by hanging pictures.

Survival against the odds
On Monday, rescue workers pulled a 24-year-old woman alive from the wreckage, a day after saving a 16-year-old boy.

The woman, Yasemin Yaprakci, was receiving treatment at a military hospital in the capital Ankara. Turkey’s General Staff said in a statement her right leg had been badly injured and she was also suffering kidney problems caused by dehydration.

Bostan Cemiloglu  /  AP
Turkish woman, 24-year old Yasemin Yaprakci smiles in an ambulance after she was pulled out alive from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Konya, central Turkey, Monday, Feb. 9, 2004, seven days after the building collapsed. Rescue workers spent hours working to free her feet which were trapped under bodies. Her condition is reported to be serious. (AP Photo/Bostan Cemiloglu/Cihan) ** TURKEY OUT **
Yaprakci’s husband and baby daughter survived the disaster with minor injuries.

Yaprakci's rescue came after teams heard her scraping her finger nails against shattered concrete and pleading, “Water, water.”

She was rushed by helicopter to a military hospital in Ankara.

Yaprakci was given oxygen under the rubble as rescuers struggled to free her, furiously pulling pieces of concrete away with their bare hands.

Rescuers were first alerted to Yaprakci by a Labrador rescue dog named Ledi. “We first thought Ledi found new corpses,” said Sgt. Ergun Ucuncu.

Niyazi Ozbek, a rescue worker quoted by the Anatolia news agency said Yaprakci joked with relief workers as she was rescued, promising to invite them for tea if they would “just get me out of here.”

On Sunday, teams found a 16-year-old boy who survived under the rubble shrouded in pulverized concrete that kept him warm. He slept often, which slowed his metabolism.

Muhammet Kalem was the first survivor to be pulled from the wreckage in almost five days. His father had so little hope of seeing his son again that he had already dug his grave.

Doctors said the remarkable survival of Yaprakci and Kalem for so long without food or water was helped by the fact that they slept most of the time and did not struggle.

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