ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Heavy rains triggered severe floods and mudslides in northern Turkey on Wednesday, killing at least one person, leaving others missing or injured and sweeping away cars in raging torrents, officials said. Helicopters scrambled to rescue people stranded on rooftops.
The floods hit the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun. They came as firefighters in southwest Turkey worked to extinguish a wildfire in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea. At least eight people and countless animals have died and thousands had to flee as Turkey endured more than 200 wildfires since July 28.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at least one person was killed and others were missing in the floods but did not provide an exact number.
The worst-hit flood area appeared to be in Kastamonu, where the town of Bozkurt was inundated and dozens of cars were swept away by raging waters. The Kastamanu governor’s office denied reports that the flooding was caused by a burst dam and there were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Still, the force of the flooding took locals by surprise.
“Within 10 minutes, everywhere was flooded,” restaurant owner Nuri Ersoz told Halk TV television. He said he feared for his cousin’s life since he believed she may have been trapped in her home.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Kastamonu, said waters have surged “three or four meters (yards) high” in some of the flood-hit areas and that many people were waiting to be rescued from rooftops.
“Evacuations and search-and-rescue efforts are continuing,” he said. “The gendarmerie, the (army) are trying to deploy all of their helicopters to the region.”
In Bartin, the flash floods demolished several houses and at least two bridges and caused the partial collapse of a road leading to the neighboring province of Karabuk, the private Turkish news agency DHA reported. At least 13 people were injured when a bridge caved in, Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency said.
Emergency workers rescued at least 15 people trapped in their homes or vehicles, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. But they were searching for an 80-year-old woman in the village of Akorensokuler who was swept away by floodwaters after her house collapsed, the Interior Ministry said.
In the town of Ayancik in the province of Sinop, a stream burst its banks and at least one house was demolished by gushing waters Helicopters lifted 19 residents to safety from rooftops and the town’s hospital was evacuated, Anadolu reported.
The agency said a 13-year-old girl was missing in the nearby town of Inebolu. Landslides, meanwhile, forced a road to close between Ayancik and the province’s main city, which is also called Sinop.
Many of the affected areas were left without power.
In an interview with CNN-Turk television, Erdogan warned that the risk of landslides continued and urged people to avoid traveling on highways in the region. The Interior Ministry also warned that heavy rains would continue in the area and asked residents not to leave “safe areas” or use roads.
Turkey’s Black Sea region is frequently struck by deadly torrential rains and flash flooding.
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 heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms. Such calamities are expected to happen more frequently as Earth warms up.
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