11 dead as flash floods hit northern Turkey

Workers try to rescue people in a flooded basement in the Black Sea province of Samsun, where torrential rains triggered flash floods and killed 11 people on Wednesday. (PHOTOSUNDAY’S ZAMAN, Muzaffer Altunay)

July 08, 2012, Sunday/ 12:05:00

Torrential rains hit the coastal Black Sea province of Samsun on Wednesday, triggering flash floods in many parts of the province that killed 11 people, including six children.

The downpour caused the Mert River to overflow late on Tuesday, flooding nearby homes and shops and stranding cars in the Canik district of Samsun. An apartment building built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) was adversely affected by the deluge, and many of the building’s ground and first floors were flooded.

Search and rescue teams found the bodies of two boys, aged 1 and 5, as well as a man and his two sons, aged 9 and 16, while searching the TOKİ complex.

The Samsun-Ordu road in Canik was closed to traffic as a precaution in case of a landslide but was reopened to traffic for a few hours later. The General Staff sent three search and rescue helicopters to the area, and the Health Ministry sent eight paramedics and three ambulances to join the rescue efforts in Samsun.

Flood victims complained that they had received no warning from the authorities about the heavy rains and possibility of flooding. The fact that floods in Samsun mostly affected the TOKİ complex has triggered criticism about whether the location of the mass housing complex was chosen without taking into consideration the risk of natural disasters.

The location of the residential complex right next to the Mert River was a mistake, according to city planners and others. Officials have been defensive, with Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar saying there would have been more deaths in a similar case if there were no TOKİ houses. He said there were no mistakes made in the TOKİ project.

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