Turkey, floods in Giresun

Death toll from severe floods in Turkey rises to 7

Floods in Black Sea have raised ground level in some areas by 3 metres. “I have seen earthquakes, but no disaster like this” says minister.

Search and rescue teams were still looking for another 9 missing people on Monday after the terrible floods that devastated the province of Giresun, on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, where the death toll now stands at 7.

Touring the disaster area, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu explained that among the 9 disappeared there are two gendarmes, and said he had never seen a similar level of destruction. “I have seen earthquakes, but this goes further. I would not wish this to my enemy. I want to convey my condolences to everyone once again,” Soylu said.

“I don’t think anyone has seen similar scenes before. Most of the stores are full of rubble or dirt up to the ceiling,” the minister added, referring to the town of Dereli, the one most affected by the disaster and which has been practically devastated. Floods in the area are estimated to have destroyed 17 buildings and damaged 361 structures.

The emergency teams sent to the area have so far managed to rescue 157 people, 12 of them injured. Almost a thousand personnel supported by 288 vehicles have been dispatched to the area by the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), while the Ministry of Defence has deployed an Airbus A400M military aircraft and several helicopters to assist in rescue tasks and assistance to victims.

“I have seen many natural disasters, but nothing like this”

For his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Forests Bekir Pakdemirli, who also visited the affected areas, expressed himself equally dismayed by the consequences of the floods. “I have worked on many natural disasters, but this is the first time I have seen a natural disaster like this. The silhouette of the city has changed,” he said referring to Dereli. An emergency fund of 9 million Turkish liras has been immediately sent to the area.

According to the national meteorological agency, the rains that began late on Saturday in the region left 137 litres per square metre and affected several districts, causing floods that washed away everything in their path, dragging vehicles and structures. Pakdemirli explained that the soil washed away by the floods has caused the ground level in Dereli to rise by up to 3 meters, leaving buildings buried.

Despite lamenting the loss of human life, the minister was nevertheless clear in also criticising many citizens who ignore warnings from authorities. “I am sorry to say it, but many times we have seen our citizens ignore the repeated warnings of the authorities thinking that nothing is going to happen to them, that it will not affect them. This unfortunately leads to the loss of life, then and now,” he said.

Pakdemirli stated that the government will do everything in its power to prevent similar disasters from happening again, explaining that there is a large anti-flood project underway in the Eastern Black Sea region; however, he warned that due to the geography of this area, it is impossible to stop floods from happening.

“It is impossible to stop floods in the Black Sea”

“It is impossible to completely stop these floods in the Black Sea region, where there are more than 120,000 rivers. It does not matter if you are a world superpower or a great State, simply there is no way to do it. We need to learn to protect ourselves in advance,” said the Minister, who also blamed climate change for the increase in this type of disasters.

“This has not been the first, nor will it be the last. We will see similar disasters and floods in Turkey. What we must do is listen to warnings from the authorities and take the necessary precautions. Citizens should cooperate more with local authorities,” insisted the minister.