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Kılıçdaroğlu visits northern Cyprus to offer condolences to earthquake victims’ families

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the presidential candidate for an opposition bloc, visited the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) on Thursday to pay his respects to the families of people who died in recent earthquakes in Turkey.

On Feb. 6, devastating 7.8 and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes struck Turkey, claiming over 48,000 lives in Turkey and nearly 6,000 in Syria. In Adıyaman province the Isias Hotel collapsed, killing 65 people, including 35 students, teachers and parents from the KKTC.

KKTC, a self-declared state recognized only by Turkey, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded the northern part of the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece. The international community considers the northern part of the island occupied territory.

Kılıçdaroğlu and his wife, Selvi, arrived in the KKTC to meet with the grieving families, particularly those of Famagusta Turkish Maarif High School girls and boys’ volleyball team players who were staying at the Isias Hotel when it collapsed. The CHP chairman expressed his condolences on Twitter, stating that the visit would be one of the most difficult days of their lives.

A preliminary investigation into the disaster suggests that it was not the strength of the earthquake but faulty construction that was responsible for the collapse of the Isias Hotel, the Cumhuriyet daily reported last month. The investigation indicates that the concrete used in construction was substandard and that gravel and sand were also used. The authorities have detained the hotel’s owners and managers. Three of them were arrested and two others were released under judicial supervision.

Kılıçdaroğlu was accompanied by his wife and several party officials during the visit. The trip was solely for the purpose of extending condolences and was closed to the press, local media reported. Kılıçdaroğlu is scheduled to make a statement upon his return to Ankara.

Turkey will hold parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14. Kılıçdaroğlu is the candidate of an opposition bloc of six political parties.

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