Emergency workers battled to relieve flood-hit areas of Turkey’s Black Sea region, as the death toll rose to 31 in the second natural disaster to strike the country this month.
- Flooding destroyed bridges, closed roads, cut off electricity to hundreds of villages and tossed heaps of debris
- About 45 centimetres of rail fell in less than three days in the worst-affected area of Kastamonu
- Hundreds of people were evacuated from flood-affected areas, some with the help of helicopters and boats
The floods, among the worst Turkey has experienced, brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring wildfires that raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.
Torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed bridges, closed roads and cut off electricity to hundreds of villages.
“This is the worst flood disaster I have seen,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters late on Thursday after surveying damage in the provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu and Sinop.
Twenty-nine people died as a result of floods in Kastamonu and another two people died in Sinop, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.
Opposition politicians said many more people were missing and the number of deaths could rise sharply.
However, there was no change in the official toll between Friday morning and afternoon.
“The infrastructure in Ayancik (district) has completely collapsed. The sewage system is destroyed. There is no electricity or water,” Sinop Mayor Baris Ayhan told Reuters.
The floods and fires, which killed eight people and devastated tens of thousands of hectares of forest, struck in the same week that a UN panel said global warming was dangerously close to spiralling out of control, and warned that extreme weather would become more severe.
About 45 centimetres of rain fell in less than three days in one village near the worst-hit region, Kastamonu’s Bozkurt district, AFAD cited meteorology authorities as saying.
Hundreds evacuated from flooded areas
Footage of the flood’s first moments in Bozkurt showed the river there overflowing in a fast-moving deluge, which tore up trees and dragged away vehicles.
The small town of Bozkurt lies in a valley along the banks of the Ezine river in Kastamonu province, 2.5 kilometres from the Black Sea.
Members of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) attributed the level of destruction there to extensive construction on the river banks in recent years.
Speaking in Bozkurt, President Tayyip Erdogan declared the three provinces a disaster zone.
More than 1,700 people were evacuated from flood-affected areas, some with the aid of helicopters and boats, AFAD said.
Helicopters lowered coast guard personnel onto the roofs of buildings to rescue people stranded as water swept through the streets, footage shared by the Interior Ministry showed.
About 190 villages were still without electricity on Friday afternoon.
Five bridges had collapsed and many others were damaged, leading to road closures, AFAD added.
Parts of the roads were also swept away.
Turkey’s meteorology authority said more heavy rain was expected in the central and eastern Black Sea region with a risk of further floods.
Source: ABC Net