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Tragedy in İstanbul: 29 killed in fire during renovations at nightclub

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Twenty-nine people died and one other person is suffering from injuries in a fire at a nightclub in an İstanbul residential building on Tuesday, the governor’s office said, updating an earlier death toll of 15, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The fire, which started during renovations at a nightclub in the two basement floors of a 16-story building in Beşiktaş’s Gayrettepe neighborhood, was extinguished by firefighters hours after it broke out, according to a statement from İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who rushed to the scene.

İmamoğlu said he hopes the death toll will not increase.

Television images showed flames and thick smoke coming from upper-story windows.

The number of people reported killed and hurt rose throughout the afternoon in a series of statements from the governor’s office, as more victims succumbed to their injuries.

The mayor said there was no record of a permit requested from the municipality to carry out the renovations and that it was apparently done illegally in the two floors below ground level and was thus not visible from outside the building.

An investigation into the incident has been launched, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on X while offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

Most of the victims are believed to be workers who were doing the repair work.

İstanbul Governor Davut Gül was also in the area on Tuesday to inspect the scene of the tragedy.

Detention warrants have been issued for six people due to their alleged role in the tragedy, Anadolu reported, citing Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç.

Worker have been suffering from lax work safety standards for decades in Turkey, where workplace accidents are nearly a daily occurrence. The Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG) reported nearly 2,000 work-related deaths in 2023.

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