Istanbul building collapse kills two, rescuers search rubble

At least one dead and several injured after the apartment collapsed in Istanbul. Source: APTN

An eight-story building collapsed in Istanbul today, killing at least two people and trapping a number of others inside the rubble, according to Turkish media reports. 

Rescue workers pulled six people out of the rubble and were working to free more who were trapped.

The building had 43 people living in 14 apartments, with a street-level ground floor and seven higher floors, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said, adding that the top three floors had been built illegally.

It was not immediately clear how many people were trapped in the wreckage.

"We are focused on lives. We have to bring them out as soon as possible," Yerlikaya said.

Turkish emergency authorities dispatched several rescue teams and medics to the site on the Asian side of Istanbul in the mostly residential Kartal district.

Three people were brought out of the rubble with injuries and hospitalized, HaberTurk television reported.

"We will work without interruption until the search and rescue operation is complete," Yerlikaya told reporters. "Our prayers are with our brothers and sisters who are inside. Our hope is that we will bring them out safely."

Security camera footage broadcast on HaberTurk television showed several people, including schoolchildren with backpacks, running away from the site as the building tumbled down and a cloud of dust engulfed the area about 4 pm.

"We rushed out as soon as we heard a loud noise. When we got out, we saw that the building had collapsed," resident Kenan Ayyildiz told the news channel.

The chief prosecutor's office said it launched an investigation into the collapse of the 27-year-old building.

NTV television said rescue teams from the neighboring provinces of Bursa and Sakarya were sent in to assist.

Authorities sealed off the area as crowds gathered to watch or help with the rescue operation. Yerlikaya urged people to vacate the scene to let rescuers operate more effectively.

Turkey's broadcasting watchdog later announced the prosecutor's office had ordered a media blackout, citing the ongoing investigation into the collapse. Turkish television stations immediately ended live broadcasts from the scene.