Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: "A piece of paradise" turned into a grave: the collapse of a luxury building in the heart of Antioquia | International

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Video capture showing the collapsed Rönesans Rezidans building after the earthquake in the Turkish city of Antioch (Hatay province).

The real estate development was advertised as “A piece of paradise”, as a building built with “the highest construction standards”. Today is a pile of rubble. The Rönesans (Renaissance) residence was, until this Monday, one of the most exclusive vertical developments in the center of Antioquia: a 12-story block on an area of ​​10,500 square meters with 249 apartments with between two and five bedrooms, a swimming pool, sports courts , receptionists... It is estimated that some 1,000 people lived in it. Most are still trapped under the rubble of an earthquake that has already left more than 17,000 dead.

One of them is Sevtap Karaabdüloglu, a teacher originally from Van, a city in the southeast of Turkey. She “she chose that house very consciously because she knew what an earthquake was. She had suffered it in Van in 2011, and she had to live for months in a camp of prefabs. So, when she came to Antioquia (just over 200,000 inhabitants), after a first year in which she lived in a residence for teachers, she searched very carefully and chose Rönesans”, explains her friend and former university classmate Ece Yilmaz by phone. from Istanbul. Her husband is in Antioquia as a volunteer, trying to help in the rescue work.

Building 'Rönesans Rezidans' prior to its destruction, in a photo from the Zingat property listings website.Video: EPV

Both, along with other friends and relatives of the victims, have established a Telegram channel to share information and ask for help. As in other places in the province of Hatay (in the south of the country), the emergency teams took more than a day and a half to arrive, although there are already rescuers from the AKUT volunteer association and from Romania and Hungary. “Even though 72 hours have passed, there are still people alive. Voices come from the rubble, but the equipment is insufficient. Please let's share it on all platforms. Let's get to the survivors before they stop breathing", asked one of the members of the channel of this social network.

One of the difficulties that the building presents is that one of the facades collapsed on the rest, which makes it easier to access some of the first floors and rooms on the side of the collapsed facade, but difficult to access on the other. side, where the facade has crushed the floors. "It was a very violent landslide," the witnesses say.

This morning, a company provided a thermal measurement device and with it it was possible to verify that there are still survivors under the ruins, although their condition is critical.

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- "Here is a group that is about to die," explains one of the operators in a video recorded by one of the volunteers and transferred to EL PAÍS.

- "Their temperature [corporal] It has gone down a lot”, answers another.

- "There are three people. One is there, under the spine," says another rescuer.

- "How far?".

- "About 35 meters from me."

The low temperatures that are registered during the night, between two and three degrees Celsius below zero, together with the lack of food and water, and the possible injuries suffered, make it difficult to survive three days after the earthquake. In some cases, rescuers have removed the bodies of people who, despite having survived the collapse of their buildings, had died of hypothermia. “They have taken several people out alive. But we still haven't heard from Sevtap or his sister Mehtap. With the passage of time our hopes weaken, but we still want to continue thinking that they are alive”, Yilmaz recounts through tears.

Theoretically, and according to the financial newspaper Dunya, The work on the Rönesans apartments was done on a floating foundation, which better withstands seismic activity and is used on land with little bearing capacity. Construction began in 2012 and was completed in 2013, so it was required to include all the anti-seismic measures required by law. Precisely for this reason, in addition to its facilities and its location, it was a typical choice among people who came from outside the province to work for a few months or years in Antioquia, as teachers, engineers or even soccer players. Ghanaian midfielder Christian Atsu, who played for Málaga and Chelsea and now wears the Hataysport shirt, was one of his neighbors. At the moment he is missing.

Christian Atsu, missing in the earthquake in 2020.
Christian Atsu, missing in the earthquake in 2020.SCOTT HEPPELL (Reuters)


There are more examples of buildings built in recent years, as close as 2018 and 2019, that have also collapsed in the same Hatay province where Antioch is located, and also in other regions of the Eurasian country. In an interview with the British channel BBC, the president in Istanbul of the Union of Chambers of Engineers and Urban Planners, Pelin Pinar Giritlioglu, estimated that up to 75,000 buildings in the area affected by the earthquake have received "amnesties". That is to say, that, in exchange for a fine, they are allowed to continue standing despite the fact that the inspections have decreed that they do not comply with the construction or anti-seismic protection standards provided by law. Even the Ministry of Urbanism itself recognized in 2018 that half of the buildings in all of Turkey do not comply with the regulations. But these amnesties continue to be granted, especially in the pre-election period. In fact, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced one ahead of the elections next May.

The builders of Rönesans, the brothers Mehmet Yaşar Coşkun and Hüseyin Yalçın Coşkun, are also missing. But not under the rubble. The web pages and telephones linked to its offices have been disconnected, as EL PAÍS was able to verify. A former partner, an architect, explained to this journalist that he does not know his whereabouts and that the last job he is aware of was a business promoting investment and obtaining citizenship in Montenegro, with offices in Istanbul. A former accountant of the company assured the Turkish outlet ArtiGercek that the last time he spoke to Hüseyin Yalçin Coskun, he was in Montenegro. Since the earthquake no one has been able to contact them.

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