ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News with wires
Torrents of rain stampeding across northwestern Turkey strike up flash floods and leave chaos in their wake. At least nine people are left dead and many more are still missing. Collapsed bridges, road closures and overflowing waterways bring Istanbul to a crawl.
Dozens of cars were swept away by flooding in the Silivri suburb of Istanbul. AA Photo
Heavy rains in the northwestern region of Marmara that started late Monday intensified yesterday, directly causing the deaths of nine people and wreaking havoc on the traffic.
Four people from the same family were found dead, and one other member was still missing, in the Saray region of the Tekirdağ province, the Anatolia news agency reported late Tuesday. In Istanbul’s Silivri region, an elderly disabled man drowned after floods inundated his house. Also, a woman who tried to cross rail tracks after the underpass was flooded on the Pendik-Kartal line on Istanbul’s Asian side was hit by a train and died, the Doğan news agency reported Tuesday.
Floods covered a large part of the region overnight in Saray, where a family of five was swept away. Emergency personnel found the bodies of the three children and the mother yesterday. The father is still missing. The bodies of an elderly couple, aged 81 and 79, were also found yesterday.
Zeki Kaya, a local administrator in Saray, said some 25 houses were damaged and 50 animals were lost in the flood. Two of the bridges in the Saray district have collapsed due to the flooding.
Istanbul was also affected badly by the heavy rainfall that began Monday night and continued throughout yesterday. Two of the city’s main traffic arteries, TEM and E5, were shut down temporarily due to the floods.
Istanbul Governor Muammer Güler said Tuesday that one person had died in the province and a child had gone missing due to the floods.
The Silivri, Çatalca, Küçükçekmece and Avcılar districts on the city’s European side and the Kartal, Pendik and Tuzla districts on its Anatolian side were all badly affected by the heavy rainfall.
Private channel CNNTürk reported that police closed the road connecting the province of Edirne to Istanbul due to accidents on the road.
Feridun Donat told CNNTürk on Tuesday that his brother went missing at 11 a.m. in the Çatalca district of Istanbul and that rescue teams were still searching for him four hours later. “There are other people looking for their relatives in the Çatalca River. This place looks like a mess,” said Donat.
Architect Mücella Yapıcı told CNNTürk that the lack of a proper urbanization plan causes rains to turn into floods and creates havoc in modern cities.
According to Yapıcı, rivers normally carry rainfall to the sea, but in Istanbul, many riverbeds have been opened to construction and are now full of residential neighborhoods.
More than 100 buildings in the Marmara region were flooded, including a hospital in the Çatalca district, where the village of Göçeali lost all roads connecting it to the outside world, reports said Tuesday.
Çatalca Mayor Cem Kara said they had opened a crisis-management desk and were using all the resources they had, but still could not control the flood completely. The mayor said they were seeking help from neighboring districts.
A fire started at the top of a five-story building located in the Pendik region when it was struck by lightning. Firemen extinguished the blaze before it spread to nearby buildings.
Many people were stuck inside their houses or in their cars on the highways, as emergency and military personnel were dispatched to rescue them.
Mustafa Yıldırım, the director of the Istanbul Meteorology Department, said they expected the rain to continue until Saturday, adding that the rains will be heavier Wednesday.
The rain will lessen, but continue Thursday and Friday in the Marmara region, Yıldırım said, warning people about floods and lightning.
Due to strong winds, ferries between Gökçeada and Kabatepe and Bozcaada and Geyikli, connecting the islands in the Marmara Sea to the mainland, were cancelled Tuesday.
The roof of a court building in Silivri collapsed due to the strong rain and wind, causing the court to delay the proceedings in the controversial Ergenekon case, in which an alleged gang is charged with trying to topple the government. Some parts of the court building were flooded and the building’s alarm system went off due to the heavy rainfall. Chief judge Köksal Şengün ordered the suspension of the proceedings until Sept. 14.
Twenty-five foreign and local freight ships are currently anchored at a harbor on the coast of Tekirdağ, waiting for the rains and the storm to subside, the Doğan news agency reported.