Floods and fires bring Turkey to its knees
Over seventy people died in the floods that hit the Black Sea region of Turkey; Rescue teams are working to find those still missing, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. He explained yesterday that 32 people died in the province of Kastamonu and the other in the Sinop area. About 330 are missing.
Heavy rains caused the floods that mainly affected Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop, and Samsun areas, seriously damaging bridges and buildings and dragged cars and other vehicles away. More than 1,700 people have been evacuated from the region so far. Tourists evacuated from beaches in southwestern Turkey, where violent fires threaten hotels, resorts, and homes. According to local media, Turkish Coast Guard ships were deployed to rescue vacationers, assisted by private boats and yachts. At the same time, three five-star hotels have been evacuated in the city of Bodrum.
The fires, which have ravaged Turkey since Wednesday, particularly in the regions of Antalya and Mugla, have killed six people. Two more deaths were confirmed on Saturday. They were among the thousands who tried to put out the flames of the nearly 100 fires that broke out in resorts and villages on the Turkish coasts of the Mediterranean and Aegean, one of the central tourist regions.
In addition to the floods, Turkey also has to deal with hundreds of fires ravaging Mugla and Antalya’s coastal provinces. Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirl said 88 of the 98 fires are currently under control, fueled by winds and record temperatures not seen in 60 years, such as in Cizre, in the southeast, where days last 49.1 degrees were recorded.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew over some areas yesterday by helicopter, declaring the south-eastern regions “disaster areas.” Even if we do not want to “politicize” what is happening, the sultan assured us that we are “considering the possibility of sabotage” and opened an investigation. Many are pointing the finger at the PKK Kurds, in the past allegedly responsible for setting arson, using them as a weapon against the central government of Ankara.
Erdogan has promised that the government will help the hundreds of people affected by the disaster. Turkish people heavily criticized the President for the shortage of firefighting aircraft in the country. But he said that “the main reason for these problems with the planes is that the Turkish Air Force Association has not been able to upgrade its fleet and technology.” He added that more planes from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and Ukraine are now involved in the massive firefighting operation.