Wednesday, December 8

Turkey Flood Death Toll Reaches 38 As Erdogan Walks Through Disaster Zone | Turkey

The death toll from Turkey’s flash floods has risen to 38 as emergency crews searched for more victims and survivors in the devastated Black Sea region just as the country was gaining control over hundreds of wildfires.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter late Friday that 32 people died in Kastamonu province, along the Black Sea, and six in neighboring Sinop. The number of victims was also reported by the government’s disaster agency, AFAD.

An unknown number of people are missing. Opposition politician Hasan Baltacı told Halk TV that residents had contacted authorities seeking information on 329 people they still feared missing.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited one of the worst affected cities on Friday. He attended a funeral for the first victims and led a prayer before a few hundred residents in the flooded city of Kastamonu.

“We will do everything we can as a state as quickly as we can, and we will rise from the ashes,” Erdogan, who canceled the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of his ruling party, told the crowd. “We cannot win back the citizens we lost, but our state has the means and the power to compensate those who lost their loved ones.”

Weeks earlier, the Turkish leader was condemned on social media for throwing tea bags at locals while visiting one of the fire-ravaged areas in late July.

Erdogan has promised to rebuild the demolished houses, roads and bridges. “Like many parts of the world, our country has been struggling with natural disasters for a while. It’s the same in the United States, Canada, Germany and other parts of Europe, ”he said.

An aerial photo of the flood-ravaged city of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province.
An aerial photo of the flood-ravaged city of Bozkurt in Kastamonu province. Photograph: AP

Floods that demolished houses and bridges and washed away cars began Wednesday, triggered by torrential rains that hit the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun.

More than 1,700 people were evacuated across the region, some lifted from rooftops in helicopters and many were temporarily housed in student dormitories.

In Kastamonu, a stream overflowed and flooded the city of Bozkurt. Several bodies were washed ashore of the Black Sea, Halk TV reported, broadcasting images of people carrying a body bag on a beach in an unidentified province.

Drone footage shows devastation after floods in Turkey - video
Drone footage shows devastation after floods in Turkey – video

Images on social media showed bridges collapsing under the force of rough waters and roads buckling from landslides. Almost 200 villages were still without power on Friday, authorities said.

The missing include 12-year-old twin sisters and their grandparents, who were trapped inside the eight-story building that collapsed in Bozkurt. Emergency crews were seen scanning the rubble for survivors.

“They told us, ‘Move your cars higher.’ They didn’t say ‘Save your lives, save your children,’ “the girls’ mother, Arzu Yucel, told the DHA news agency. “I could have gotten them out of there.”

Search and rescue efforts continue in Bozkurt.
Search and rescue efforts continue in Bozkurt. Photograph: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Anger appeared to be rising in Black Sea towns and cities over what some said was a lack of adequate warning from local officials of the dangers of the coming storms.

Yilmaz Ersevenli, a Bozkurt resident, told NTV that she left her home to move her car to a safe area when floodwaters started to rise but were soon washed away. He said he managed to save himself by clinging to a tree that had also been dragged.

“I almost lost my life trying to save my car,” he said.

The devastation in Turkey’s northern Black Sea regions came just as the disaster-stricken country was gaining control of hundreds of wildfires that killed eight people and destroyed swaths of forest along its scenic southern coast.

The meteorological services predicted that the rains will continue to hit the affected area for the rest of the week.

With AP and Agence France-Presse

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