ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Heavy rains triggered severe floods and mudslides in northern Turkey on Wednesday, leaving one woman missing, others injured and cars swept away by torrents, officials said. Helicopters scrambled to rescue people stranded on rooftops.
The floods hit the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu and Sinop early Wednesday. 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 of people had to flee during more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28.
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 the flooding was caused by a burst dam nearby.
“Within 10 minutes, everywhere was flooded,” restaurant owner Nuri Ersoz told Halk TV television by telephone. He said he feared for his cousin’s life since he believed she may have been trapped in her home.
There were no immediate reports of any casualties in Kastamonu.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who was traveling 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 part of a bridge caved in, the country’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 Sinop, where a stream burst its banks and at least one house was demolished by gushing waters, helicopters lifted residents to safety from rooftops. The town’s hospital was evacuated as a precaution, Anadolu reported. Landslides caused the closure of a section of a road between Ayancik and the province’s main city, which is also called Sinop.
Many of the affected areas were left without power.
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 on our warming planet.
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