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Turkey earthquake: Owner of collapsed residential complex arrested at airport

Mehmet Yasar Coskun, who owns 12-storey complex in Antakya, stopped at Istanbul airport en route to Montenegro
This aerial view shows collapsed buildings in Hatay, southeastern Turkey, including the Renaissance Residence, on 8 February 2023 (AFP)
This aerial view shows collapsed buildings that make up the Renaissance residential complex in southeast Turkey's Hatay province, on 8 February 2023 (AFP)

The owner of Renaissance Residence, an apartment complex destroyed by the earthquake in southeast Turkey's Hatay province, was detained at an Istanbul airport on Friday while trying to leave the country.

Mehmet Yasar Coskun was stopped at Sabiha Gokcen airport attempting to travel to Montenegro, the official Turkish Anadolu Agency reported. 

The arrest was carried out upon the orders of the chief public prosecutor's office in Istanbul's Gaziosmanpasa district. 

Coskun was travelling to Montenegro with a small amount of money, which was seized by the airport police, the report stated. He has yet to be officially charged. 

The 12-storey Renaissance complex consisted of 250 apartments, and was located in Hatay's Antakya district. It had been advertised as a luxury residence project that complied with building regulations. 

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Mehmet Yasar Coskun
Mehmet Yasar Coskun was arrested on Friday at Sabiha Gokcen airport attempting to travel to Montenegro (Screengrab)

It was completely toppled after a 7.8-magnitude quake struck the southeastern city of Gaziantep on Monday morning, followed by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Kahramanmaras province shortly after.

On Thursday, Turkey's justice minister announced that a judicial investigation had been initiated over collapsed buildings during the quake. 

The probe will seek to hold to account those who built the buildings or bore any responsibility for their collapse in the 10 worst-affected provinces.

"Those who have negligence, faults and those responsible for the destructions after the earthquake will be identified and held accountable before the judiciary," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. 

The death toll in Turkey has climbed to 18,991, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday. 

In Syria, at least 3,377 people have been killed, according to figures from the government and a rescue organisation operating in rebel-held northwestern areas.

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