At least four dead as storm batters western, central Turkey

At least four dead as storm batters western, central Turkey

A severe storm hit İstanbul on Wednesday, badly damaging a building under construction in the city's Şişli district. The roof of the building fell on a taxi in the street below. (Photo: AA)

April 18, 2012, Wednesday/ 14:08:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Strong winds swept across western and central parts of Turkey on Wednesday, blowing off the roofs of several houses and even shaking the Bosporus Bridge in İstanbul as meteorologists warned of the possibility of even stronger winds.

The Bosporus Bridge was temporarily closed to traffic due to the storm and the roof of İstanbul's historic Grand Bazaar was also damaged. Most parts of the European side of the city were blanketed in dust.

Two people were injured when scaffolding at a construction site in İstanbul's Harbiye neighborhood collapsed due to strong winds. Two children were seriously injured after being hit by a road sign that was knocked down in İstanbul's Ümraniye district.Several trees fell down in İstanbul's Yenibosna neighborhood and traffic on the E-5 highway was temporarily halted. The State Meteorological Bureau warned that winds with speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour are expected.

Strong winds claimed another life in the western province of Denizli when a man lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. The driver, İsmail Karagönlü (28), died at the scene. And in Göynük, a district of the western province of Bolu, a man trying to repair a damaged roof died after being knocked over by strong winds and falling off the roof.

The storm also forced the İstanbul Ferry Lines (İDO) to cancel ferries between Bostancı and Bakırköy as well as those between Bandırma and Yenikapı. And a fire, the cause of which is still unknown, broke out on a yacht near Sarayburnu in İstanbul and quickly spread due to strong winds. Firefighters and ambulances were dispatched to the scene and rescued 10 people onboard the yacht.

A statement from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality said they had received reports that the roofs of some 300 buildings had been blown off and about 100 trees knocked down. The statement added that the İstanbul Fire Department is on alert and that İstanbulites should be aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning as strong winds can block vents, preventing exhaust from being released. Central parts of the country, Ankara and Konya in particular, were also hit by storms on Wednesday. Traffic was disrupted along the Ankara-Konya highway, which was affected by a sandstorm, with several traffic accidents occurring along the highway due to high-speed winds. Two people were killed and 20 others were injured in traffic accidents caused by the sandstorm. Skies over the Turkish capital of Ankara turned yellow due to a sandstorm, with some gusts reaching as high 120 kilometer per hour (75 mile per hour), according to weather officials.

High-speed winds have also hampered dozens of flights across the country. Turkish Airlines (THY) also announced that it had cancelled 43 domestic and international flights scheduled for Thursday due to adverse weather conditions. Strong winds and torrential rain also wreaked havoc across western parts of Turkey on Wednesday. Dozens of fishing boats capsized in the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. Heavy rain and strong winds are expected to persist until Thursday afternoon in western and central parts of the country, meteorologists said.

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