16 May 2019

A major, fatal retaining wall failure from Basaksehir in Istanbul, Turkey

Posted by Dave Petley

A major, fatal retaining wall failure from Basaksehir in Istanbul, Turkey

On Tuesday 14th May 2019 a major retaining wall failure occurred in the Basaksehir district of Istanbul in Turkey. The retaining wall was built on a steep slope between a housing complex and a busy road in the Kayaşehir neighbourhood.  This image, from Daily Sabah, shows the aftermath of the collapse:-

Basaksehir district

The aftermath of the retaining wall failure in the Kayaşehir neighborhood of Basaksehir district in Istanbul, Turkey on 15th May 2019. Image by DHA Photo via the Daily Sabah.


There is a video of the collapse caught by CCTV on Youtube.  This shows that a car was caught in the event, so I advise some discretion in viewing it:-


The video shows that the wall underwent a toppling failure – some precursory movement can be seen in the film, such that the car was engulfed completely.   There were two occupants of the car, one of whom survived with injuries.  Sadly the other, named in the media reports as Fatih Göztepe, was killed.

Interestingly, the collapse occurred without a rainfall trigger, or of obvious signs of construction work.  The Daily Sabah report suggests that signs of movement were evident prior to the failure:-

“Following the incident, locals told reporters at the scene that they had alerted officials to cracks in the wall but no measures were taken. In footage that emerged Wednesday and was reportedly captured a couple of days earlier, a child living in the housing development complex walks on the sidewalk and films the cracks between the road and the wall. In the video, the child says the cracks have grown larger since he last came, saying that the wall will collapse if it continues like this. He is then heard talking to the driver of a passing vehicle, warning the driver of the condition of the wall.”

Inevitably there is going to be a focus on the design and construction of the wall, and on why no action was taken when the cracks were observed.