Rescue effort stopped in Turkey dorm collapse

Sunday, August 3, 2008

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Rescue workers called off the search for survivors in the debris of a girls dormitory that collapsed in central Turkey after pulling out the body of the 18th victim, an official said Saturday.

The three-story building crumbled with a pre-dawn explosion in central Konya province Friday, trapping dozens inside.

Rescue efforts continued late into the night until workers found the body of a girl whose family had reported to police that their daughter was missing, mayor Mehmet Demirgul said.

The teams left the site after they pulled out her body from the rubble because there was no one left unaccounted for, Demirgul said.

Officials said about 45 girls between ages of 8 and 16 were staying at the dormitory as they attended Quran courses during the school summer break.

Demirgul said a leaking pipe carrying liquefied petroleum gas likely caused the pre-dawn blast.

The head of the local civil engineers chamber, Ugur Ibrahim Altay, earlier said the 18-year-old building was unlicensed.

"The quality of the concrete is very poor," Altay said. "If better material was used, it would at least not have turned into rubble like this."

The rescue workers had initially called off the search Friday evening after they pulled out two survivors from the site of the blast, Demirgul said. They were convinced no one else was trapped, he said.

But a military rescue team resumed its search after a family living in the area reported to police that their daughter, who had stayed the night at the dormitory, was missing, Demirgul said.

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