Turkey, disaster by floods in the Black Sea

44 deaths from the floods that have devastated northern Turkey

Rescue personnel continue to search for victims. “It is the biggest disaster I have seen in my entire life,” says Turkish Interior Minister.

At least 44 people have already died from the terrible floods that have devastated the Black Sea region, in northern Turkey, while rescue teams working on the ground do not rule out that more victims could be found due to the magnitude of the destruction in the zone.

According to the latest data provided today by the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), 36 people have died in the province of Kastamonu (the most affected by the disaster), another 7 in Sinop and one in the province of Bartın . Nine of the injured remain hospitalised in Sinop, while one person – a woman whose house was destroyed by the floods – remains missing in Bartın.

A total of 5,188 AFAD personnel supported by 27 rescue dogs, two search planes and 19 helicopters that are being used to evacuate many residents trapped in their homes, are operating in the region. It is estimated that some 2,250 people have had to be evacuated after the floods, many by air because they had taken refuge on the roofs of buildings to escape from water.

“It’s the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen in my life”

There are also many people who have been left homeless and have lost everything after the floods, whose magnitude has been such that the Turkish Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu, who follows the rescue operations on the ground, has said about them that they are “the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Although climate change specialists recall that extreme events such as droughts and floods will be more frequent and more intense as the Earth’s temperature increases, in this case several Turkish experts have already raised their voices blaming human beings for this disaster, due to the construction of buildings in flood zones.

Experts blame not climate change, but uncontrolled construction

For example, Turkish geologists have denounced the uncontrolled construction in the basin and floodplain of the Ezine River, which runs through the Bozkurt district in Kastamonu, one of the most affected by the disaster; in this way, the residential buildings constructed along the river bank would have narrowed the river basin from the original 400 metres, to only 15 metres wide.

By doing so, the river has a much more limited area to move around, and it overflows; the limitation of its basin also causes the waters that descend – when the flow rises due to torrential rains (such as those that occurred this week) – to increase in height and also in speed, multiplying its destructive force.

This is what explain, for example, scientists such as Ramazan Demirtaş, who through his Twitter account pointed to the human being as responsible for what happened, and showed a graph explaining that by limiting the basin to 15 metres wide, the water reached up to 10 metres in height in Bozkurt.

These severe floods that have once again devastated northern Turkey – for the third time in just a month – in the Turkish Black Sea region, also occur just days after a devastating wave of wildfires affected the southern provinces of the country – especially the tourist areas of Muğla and Antalya – causing 8 deaths. In total, some 240 fires were declared, burning tens of thousands of hectares.