The owners of a luxury 14-storey apartment complex which collapsed during the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake have been arrested after attempting to flee to the north.

Hasan Albargun and his son Can Albargun are accused of selling luxury apartments in Cukurova, near Adana, as modern and safe.

The building is reported to have collapsed like a house of cards – killing 50 people, according to Cumhuriyet; in comments carried by the Cyprus News Agency.

On the day of the 7.8 earthquake the pair allegedly tried to flee to the north and were arrested.

The death toll exceeded 24,150 across southern Turkey and northwest Syria, as of Saturday afternoon.

It marks Turkey’s deadliest earthquake since 1939, which left 32,700 dead – with many questions now being raised as whether human error led to so many dying since Monday.

Turkey is at the mercy of two fault lines but critics state that the building codes are antiquated and date back 80 years.

Professor Mustafa Erdik, one of Turkey’s leading earthquake engineers, said that flouting building codes and regulations along with incompetence led to the dramatic loss of life.

“We allow for damage but not this type of damage – with floors being piled on top of each other like pancakes,” he told the BBC. “That should have been prevented and that creates the kind of casualties we have seen.”

Experts also stress that rules have not been observed in earthquake zones and point to a 2018 government amnesty which allowed violations of the building code to be swept away with a fine, leaving some six million buildings unchanged.