Official statement claims 52 workers died during construction of İstanbul’s new airport

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An employee looks over towards the control tower of the Istanbul New Airport under construction on April 13, 2018, during press tour in northern Istanbul. - The inauguration of the airport, a Grimshaw design in collaboration with an international architectural team, is planned to to take place in October 2018. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

An official statement issued in response to an opposition deputy’s question claimed that during the construction of İstanbul’s new airport 52 workers died in work-related accidents, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

The airport was opened by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 29.

The statement was issued by the Arnavutköy district’s social security center in response to a question from Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Şeker.

Social security officials said between 2013 and 2018 the construction site had been inspected 22 times but that only two of the visits were scheduled and the rest were due to complaints.

As a result of the inspections 74 contractors were fined around TL 2.7 million ($512,000).

Some 10,000 workers went on strike on Sept. 14, with more than 400 detained by police. Since then the courts have ruled to arrest 31 of the detainees, including a union leader.

According to a Cumhuriyet daily report in February, the number of casualties in the work-related accidents amounted to hundreds; however, Turkish officials at that time claimed the number of fatalities was 37.

The workers complained about food and housing on the construction site, claiming that their rooms were full of bed bugs and fleas, which led a number of workers to quit.

They were also reportedly under pressure to finish the project as soon as possible in line with the wishes of President Erdoğan.

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