Heavy Floods Hit Northwest Turkey
Just days after forest fires ravaged southern Turkey, razing entire villages and forcing thousands to flee, rescue teams struggled on Thursday to evacuate dozens and locate the missing after heavy rains caused flash flooding in the northwestern region of the country.
At least nine people have been killed in the floods, which affected three provinces, according to Turkish authorities, and at least five children are missing.
In the small town of Bozkurt, Kastamonu province, four young children from the same extended family were missing.
Fatih Karaalioglu, an uncle of the children, appealed for help on Twitter.
“Our children are under the ruins,” he wrote. “Help us.”
The children, Ecrin and Iclal Yuksel, 12-year-old twins, and two related siblings, Kerem Ali and Ayse Miray Ozdogan, were home alone when the flood hit, Karaalioglu wrote. Initially, the family believed they had been evacuated from the building where they were. The building had collapsed and the family later learned that the children had not been brought to safety.
Rescue teams were working on the ruins of the building on Thursday afternoon, video showed.
Rescue teams are searching the area, said Hasan Baltaci, a lawmaker representing Kastamonu province. Speaking from Bozkurt, he said at least three buildings collapsed on a single street.
In neighboring Bartin province, an 80-year-old woman was reported missing and 13 people were injured. Local media also reported that a 13-year-old girl was among the missing. But the Turkish emergency management agency AFAD has not yet been able to confirm the exact number of people missing.
Dozens of people have been rescued from flood-affected areas since Wednesday, some by military helicopter. As evacuation efforts continued, authorities warned of the risk of further flooding and landslides.
Residents climbed onto the roofs of their buildings to escape the rising waters, a video from the area showed. Buses, cars and houses had tipped over in the muddy waters that flooded the streets of towns and villages.
“We are watching our city being destroyed,” Muammer Yanik, the mayor of Bozkurt, told Turkish TV station NTV. “Citizens are waiting on the rooftops to be saved.
The flooding was caused by heavy rains, which caused the region’s rivers to overflow into the streets, with water levels reaching heights of between 9 and 13 feet in some places, officials said.
A hospital was evacuated in Sinop province and six patients were sent to another facility by helicopter. Tents and beds have been sent to Kastamonu province as part of the relief efforts, AFAD said in a statement.
Turkish authorities fought deadly forest fires that mainly affected the south of the country, killing eight and injuring hundreds.
In the past two weeks, firefighters have successfully brought down more than 280 fires across the country.
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