Turkey flooding: Death toll rises as thousands evacuated

At least 55 people killed, authorities dispute reports of hundreds missing

A car swept away following torrential rains in Kastamonu. Photograph: Handout/IHH/AFP via Getty

A car swept away following torrential rains in Kastamonu. Photograph: Handout/IHH/AFP via Getty

 

The death toll from severe floods and mudslides along Turkey’s Black Sea coast has climbed to at least 55, the country’s emergency and disaster agency said on Saturday, as authorities disputed reports that hundreds of people were missing.

Torrential rains in the Black Sea provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu and Sinop on Wednesday caused flooding that demolished homes, severed at least five bridges, swept away cars and rendered numerous roads unpassable.

Turkish disaster agency AFAD said 46 people were killed in Kastamonu, eight in Sinop and one in Bartin.

Some residents in Kastamonu said on social media that there are hundreds more missing, a statement also made by an opposition politician. But the provincial governor’s office said that reports about 250 unidentified bodies were untrue. It did not specifically address how many people could be missing in the flooding.

In Sinop, floodwaters almost completely wiped out the village of Babacay, leaving toppled homes, damaged bridges and rubble in their wake. A five-storey block of flats constructed on a riverbed was destroyed.

Rescue teams and sniffer dogs kept up the task of trying to locate the missing. AFAD said 5,820 personnel, 20 rescue dogs, 20 helicopters and two search planes were at the disaster spots.

About 2,250 people were evacuated across the region amid the floods, scores of them lifted from rooftops by helicopters. Many are being temporarily housed in student dormitories.

Turkey’s Black Sea region is frequently struck by severe rains and flash flooding. At least six people were killed in floods in the eastern Black Sea coastal province of Rize last month.

The disaster struck as firefighters in south-west Turkey worked to extinguish a wildfire in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea.

The blaze, which was brought under control on Thursday, was one of more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28th.

At least eight people died and thousands of residents have had to flee fierce blazes.

Climate scientists say there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme events, such as heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms.

Such calamities are expected to happen more frequently as the planet warms. – AP, PA