At least 17 people have been killed in flash floods in Turkey’s Black Sea region that have sent water and debris cascading through streets, damaged bridges, and ripped up roads in the second natural disaster to strike the country this month.
The floodwaters brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring that some of the wildfires that had raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.
The floods and the fires, which killed eight people and devastated tens of thousands of hectares of forest, struck in the same week that a UN panel said global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control.
Fifteen people were killed in the floods in Kastamonu province and two people died in Sinop, authorities said, adding that search and rescue operations were continuing.
More than 1,400 people were evacuated from the areas affected, some with the help of helicopters and boats, and about 740 people were being housed in student dormitories, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.
Helicopters lowered coastguard personnel onto the roofs of buildings to rescue people who were stranded as floodwaters swept through the streets, footage shared by the Ministry of Interior showed.
The deluge damaged power infrastructure, leaving about 330 villages without electricity. Five bridges had collapsed and many others were damaged, leading to road closures, AFAD added. Parts of the roads were also swept away.
Television footage showed the floods dragging dozens of cars and heaps of debris along the streets. The heavy rainfall in the region was expected to ease on Thursday evening, AFAD said.
Flooding inundated much of Bozkurt in Kastamonu Province. One building collapsed and a second building was damaged in the town, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. In Bartin province, at least 13 people were injured when a section of a bridge caved in.
Many of the affected areas were left without power and village roads were blocked.
The disaster struck as firefighters in southwest Turkey worked to extinguish a wildfire in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea.
The blaze, which was brought under control on Thursday, was one of more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28. At least eight people and countless animals died and thousands of residents have had to flee fierce blazes.
Authorities said that 299 forest fires, which had burned across southwestern provinces for the last two weeks, had been brought under control.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they were the worst fires Turkey had faced in its history. Thousands of Turks and tourists were evacuated as the flames spread through Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions, fanned by hot, dry weather and strong winds.
Climate scientists have said there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms. Such calamities are expected to happen more frequently on the warming planet.
Turkey’s Black Sea region is frequently struck by severe rains and flash flooding. At least six people were killed in floods that hit the eastern Black Sea coastal province of Rize last month.