16 April 2014, Wednesday
Today's Zaman

Flash floods kill 5, injure 12 in Hatay

Heavy rain hit the southern Turkish province of Hatay on Friday morning, triggering flash floods that resulted in five deaths and 12 injured, according to the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD).

Rain in Hatay's Dörtyol district on Thursday night and into Friday morning disrupted life and caused flash floods, damaging many homes and causing landslides from the Çökek plateau. A road up to the plateau also sustained heavy damage.

According to initial reports, three of the dead are from the same family. Fatma Üstünel and her two grandchildren, Nisanur Ertunç and Nidanur Ertunç, as well as Ökkeş Morca and Muammer Arif Canbolat died in the floods.

According to AFAD, the 12 injured had to be rescued. They were taken to hospitals in the Dörtyol and İskenderun. Search and rescue efforts continue to help those left stranded by the flood. The General Staff has sent two search and rescue helicopters to the area and the Health Ministry has dispatched paramedics and ambulances to join in the rescue efforts.

According to meteorologists, rain fell for 8 hours, dropping 121 kilograms of water per square meter of the city. Authorities warn that the rain has softened the ground, particularly in forested and mountain regions, and that residents in these areas should exercise caution.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Hatay deputy Hacı Bayram Türkoğlu, who was in his hometown in Hatay at the time of the flooding, went to the disaster area to assist rescue workers. Türkoğlu said: “The rain started suddenly on Thursday night when people were sleeping in their homes and therefore caught them unprepared. I have never seen such rain in my life. There was another big disaster in Hatay 25 years ago that caused the collapse of eight homes but did not claim lives. Unfortunately, five people were killed because of this heavy rain. Search and rescue efforts have been ongoing since last night but there are no known missing people at this point.”

Floods are the second most destructive type of disaster in the country following earthquakes, according to reports prepared by the Ministry of Public Works' General Directorate of Disaster Affairs and the State Waterworks Authority (DSİ). According to the DSİ, 287 floods have occurred in Turkey in the past 20 years over approximately 50 million hectares of agricultural land and urban areas, resulting in an average of $165 million in damage each year.

Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz told reporters that at least a dozen others were injured in the floods. He added that six houses were destroyed as a result of the floods.

Search and rescue units, including two helicopters, were dispatched to the area after the floods.

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