Death toll at Istanbul building collapse reaches 21

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Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has increased the death toll to 17.

The eight-story residential building collapsed in the city's Kartal district Wednesday.

Turkey's president helped carry the coffin of one of the victims of the apartment building collapse in Istanbul today as the death toll hit 17.

Mr Erdogan, visiting the site on Saturday, said: "We have a great number of lessons to learn from this".

"We estimate that there were 35 people trapped under the rubble and we have now accounted for 35", he said while stressing that search operations would continue as before. He said rescuers had reached another person under the rubble, who was thought to be dead.

Erdogan also visited a hospital where more than a dozen people are being treated.

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However, top three floors of the building were built illegally, the governor added.

The collapse fuelled criticism of a government amnesty granted a year ago to people accused of building illegally - a measure announced before municipal elections this March.

On Saturday, 9 members of Alemdar family - who all died during the collapse of the building - were buried today in a cemetery in Pendik district. Seven of them are in serious condition.

Friends and relatives have been waiting near the apartment building for news of their missing loved ones as emergency teams, aided by sniffer dogs, worked around the clock. A day earlier, a five-year-old girl was rescued from the debris.

Officials haven't disclosed how many people are still unaccounted for.

Anadolu news agency said 43 people were registered as living in the building.

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