ANKARA, Turkey — Officials reported Friday that the death toll from floods and mudslides in northern Turkey had risen to at least 38, as rescuers searched fallen buildings, inundated homes, and submerged basements for additional fatalities and survivors. More than 300 individuals may be missing, according to one opposition leader.
Flooding was triggered by torrential rains that pummelling the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop, and Samsun on Wednesday, destroying homes and bridges and sweeping automobiles away. Over 1,700 individuals were evacuated across the region, some by helicopters from roofs, and many were temporarily sheltered in student dorms.
Late Friday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca revealed on Twitter that 32 people perished in Kastamonu and six in Sinop as a result of the earthquake.
A creek in Kastamonu breached its banks, flooding the town of Bozkurt. Floodwaters swept over the area, destroying one waterfront structure and seriously damaging two others. According to Halk TV, a number of victims washed up on the Black Sea shore, with images showing people carrying a body bag on a beach in an unnamed region.
The floods came on the heels of wildfires in southern Turkey, which ravaged forest lands in the tourist-friendly districts of Mugla and Antalya. At least eight individuals were killed, and thousands of more people were forced to evacuate their homes.
Climate change caused by the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas, according to scientists, is causing more severe occurrences including heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, and storms. As the globe warms, such disasters are likely to become more frequent.
Residents have called Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, seeking information on 329 individuals thought missing, Hasan Baltaci, an opposition party legislator who represents Kastamonu, reported Halk TV channel. He warned that some of the names might be duplicates, while others could be those of people who were unable to reach their loved ones.
Twelve-year-old twin twins and their grandparents were trapped inside an eight-story building in the village of Bozkurt when it collapsed. Searching for survivors, emergency personnel were spotted combing through the wreckage.
According to the DHA news agency, the girls’ mother, Arzu Yucel, fled the apartment building when officials urged residents to relocate their vehicles to higher ground. When she returned, the building was engulfed in water, preventing her from entering. Her girls waved at her from a different building.
“We talked on the phone. From the balcony, they waved. ‘Don’t worry, mama, we’re OK,’ they responded, according to Yucel. “They told us to raise our automobiles.’ ‘Save your lives, save your children,’ they didn’t say. I might have been able to get them out of there.”
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu characterized the images in Bozkurt late Thursday as “the most terrible flood tragedy I have seen.” Flood levels in some locations reached three or four meters (10-13 feet) high on Wednesday, he added.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who postponed his governing party’s 20th-anniversary festivities, paid a visit to the region on Friday and vowed to rebuild damaged homes, roads, and bridges.
“With God’s help, we will also be able to overcome this tragedy. “As a state, we will do whatever it takes…and hopefully, we will emerge from the ashes,” Erdogan added.
The Turkish president alluded to recent wildfires and floods in other parts of the world.
“For a long time, our country, like many others across the world, has been dealing with natural calamities. “The same thing is happening in America, Canada, Germany, and other areas of Europe,” Erdogan added. “Our best hope is to survive these calamities with the least amount of damage.”
Yilmaz Ersevenli, a resident of Bozkurt, told NTV that as the floodwaters rose, he left his house to transfer his car to a safer location, but was quickly carried away. He claimed he was able to save himself by clinging to a tree that had swept away as well.
He stated, “I almost lost my life attempting to preserve my automobile.”
A piece of a bridge collapsed down in Bartin province, injuring at least 13 persons. According to AFAD, ten persons are now in hospitals.
Five bridges were destroyed in the floodwaters, while two others were damaged, according to AFAD. Some communities remain without electricity, and several highways are still closed. Villagers were still being evacuated by helicopter on Friday from places where there was no road access.
Erdogan stated on Thursday that the search and rescue effort comprised at least 4,500 people, 19 aircraft, and 24 boats.
Severe rainfall and flash flooding are common in Turkey’s Black Sea area. Floods in the eastern Black Sea coastal province of Rize killed at least six people last month.