Turkish hotels collapse in earthquake

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Van, Turkey caused the collapse of several buildings including two hotels.

The midscale Hotel Bayram, which had its 5-story structure already damaged by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Van on October 23, was flattened by Wednesday’s quake, leaving an undetermined number of people trapped beneath the concrete. The hotel’s owner, Aslan Bayram, told the press that the 47-year-old hotel had been cleared by building inspectors after the October quake. Bayram said that 15 guests were staying in the hotel Wednesday evening when the quake hit.

Some of the guests staying in the hotel included Japanese aid workers that were helping with the city’s recovery from the October quake, as well as Turkish journalists reporting on the recovery. One of the workers, Atsushi Miyazaki, of the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan, is confirmed dead.

The hotel’s website has been updated from yesterday, and now features just a single page with a message of condolence (in Turkish) and contact information.

Another Van hotel, Aslan Hotel, also collapsed. Aslan was a budget hotel.

The collapse of the two hotels has caused outrage in Turkey, with area politicians and residents criticizing the decision to allow the hotels to continue to operate after the October quake.

“How is it that these two buildings were not sealed off and were allowed to continue operating?” said Osman Baydemir, mayor of Diyarbakir, Turkey, in an interview with the Associated Press. “The government must bring those responsible to account.”