ISTANBUL -- An apartment building collapsed yesterday on a crowded street in Istanbul, and rescuers pulled two people from the rubble, local media said.
As dusk fell, it was unclear whether anyone else was trapped beneath the debris.
Mayor Kadir Topbas said the collapse was the result of "serious negligence" by a contractor hired to tear down a building next door. He said careless work had damaged the foundation of the apartment building.
Local media said rescuers pulled two injured people from beneath the rubble. It was not immediately clear how seriously they were injured.
Residents were evacuated from the building just before it collapsed when a "cracking" sound was heard, Governor Muammer Guler of Istanbul said, adding that one or two reportedly had gone back inside to pick up their belongings.
There were conflicting reports on whether the structure was six or eight stories.
Vesile Vural, 55, said she saw the collapse from her apartment across the street.
"There were construction workers working on a new building next door, we were watching that," she said. "Then the other building collapsed all of a sudden. In a second, everything was under a cloud of dust."
The aftermath of the collapse was chaotic. Hundreds of rescuers clambered over the rubble, and dogs crawled through the wreckage in a search for survivors.
One elderly woman wept as she tried to lift debris with her hands.
Other women cried as they walked past the rubble and a large crowd gathered around the site. Rescuers appealed for quiet so they could hear whether people were trapped. Radiators, pipes, stoves, and other household items jutted at odd angles from the pile.
At dusk, rescuers set up lights on tripods and formed a human chain to remove debris.
Authorities evacuated two nearby buildings as a precaution, said district official Osman Develioglu.