A total of six of the 10 flood victims resided at the 2-year old North Star residential complex in Canik, which was promoted as a modern living space by TOKİ. The Mert River in Canik, near the North Star complex, spilled over its banks causing death and significant damage to property.
The location of the residential complex right next to the Mert River was erroneous, city planners and others have criticized.
Officials have been defensive, with Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar saying there would have been more deaths had the homes not been constructed by TOKİ. He added that there were no errors committed in the course of TOKİ's project in the area.
Speaking to reporters in Samsun on Thursday, Bayraktar expressed his condolences, saying Wednesday's flood is the worst in years.
Bayraktar, who was also the former chief of TOKİ, added that even though the apartment buildings were built a sufficient distance from the river, a thorough investigation would be conducted. Stressing that all necessary steps will be taken with respect to the disaster, Bayraktar said if there is anyone responsible for the death, they must be punished. “Including me,” he added.
Stressing that all necessary steps will be taken with respect to the disaster, Bayraktar said if there are responsible people, they must be punished. “Including me,” he added.
Ahmet Altan, the editor-in-chief of the Taraf daily, expressed his anger over the deaths and statements made by officials dismissing responsibility in his Thursday column. “They built the homes on a river bed. They inaugurated the houses with ceremonies. They praised themselves about it,” said Altan. “Why is it that they chose that area? Was it land owned by the state or did they buy it from someone else? Why did they choose a river bed? Probably because they weren’t the ones who were going to live in those houses.”
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was in Canik on Thursday, visiting the flood victims. He said officials often preached to contractors to not build homes near riverbeds, and then asked, “But to whom will we complain when the state does the same thing?” Kılıçdaroğlu said his party was investigating whether the flood victims had the right to compensation.
The head of the CHP’s parliamentary group Emine Ülker Tarhan also made a statement about the Samsun tragedy, saying Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar and TOKİ were the usual suspects responsible for massacring urban areas. “But of course, Bayraktar will defend his position, he will just watch, not resign and not get punished for this,” Tarhan said.
“The only concern of those who are damaging nature only to make more and more money is ‘how can we get away with it this time?’ and ‘how can we make people forget about this?’ But those who are hurt do not forget. The ones that pay the price of playing with nature are not the ones who are trying her strength, but rather those that are completely innocent,” she said. “Our people were killed in a murder that they are calling a flood.”
KAŞİF, a regional businessmen’s organization, released a statement on Thursday. KAŞİF’s President Osman Reis said the damages suffered by those hit by the flood should immediately be compensated for by the state, in a written statement released in the afternoon. Reis recalled that 35 people have died in floods over the past three years in the Black Sea region, urging authorities to determine areas that are under threat of floods and landslides. “Radical measures are needed to prevent further life loss and uncompromising enforcement of these measures,” he said.
Torrential rains continued to pour in the region on Thursday. Three families that were stranded in a village near Ayancık, a district in the Sinop province, were rescued by military helicopters dispatched to the area, the Sinop Governor’s Office said.
There were funerals for some of the Samsun flood victims on Thursday. Emine Bütüner, Mihra Bütüner, Mehmet Yaylacıoğlu and Kenan Yazıcı were buried in the afternoon following funeral ceremonies attended by local officials and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Mustafa Demir.
Two brothers, Mücahit Yazıcı and Hüseyin Bedirhan Yazıcı, who were 10 and 16 years old, were buried in their hometown of Çaybaşı, a district of Ordu.
Two others, Kenan Yazıcı and Mehmet Yaylacıoğlu were also buried in their villages in Samsun. The body of another victim, Seher Özkan, was sent to Adana.
One person was still missing as of Thursday afternoon following the deadly floods that hit the Black Sea province on Wednesday. The mother and sister of the missing man identified as Berkay Bütüner also died in the flood.