Fire tears through Istanbul apartment block, killing 29

ISTANBUL  -  A fire that raged from the basement of a 16-sto­rey block in central Istanbul left at least 29 peo­ple dead Tuesday, with flames and thick smoke billowing for hours despite a massive emergency response. By late afternoon around 20 fire trucks and ambulances were still crowded around the building, where builders had been working on a nightclub in the basement.

A police cordon kept onlookers and traffic 100 metres (yards) away from the scorched facade, while an AFP reporter saw three exhausted fire­fighters sat on the ground with smoke-blackened faces and equipment.

The fire began at 12:47 (0947 GMT), the city gov­ernor’s office said, but it was only in the late after­noon that Davut Gul’s team announced the blaze was out. As well as the 29 killed, one hurt person was still being treated in hospital, his office said.

It was not immediately clear whether the victims dies from smoke inhalation or from the flames.

“An investigation has been opened into the fire that occurred in Gayrettepe (neighbourhood) in the Besiktas district of Istanbul,” Interior Minis­ter Ali Yerlikaya posted on X. According to the gov­ernor’s office, workmen had been renovating the basement nightclub when the fire broke out.

All the men working on the site were dead, the governor’s office said, adding that it had “issued five arrest warrants”, including for the club’s own­er and manager. “Three of the suspects have been arrested and two more are being sought,” it added.

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