Turkish hospital, villagers evacuated in flash floods

Published August 12, 2021, 6:58 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish rescuers evacuated a regional hospital on Wednesday and plucked stranded villagers off rooftops as flash floods and mudslides swept across the Black Sea coast.

An aerial view shows a destroyed in a flooded area following heavy rainfalls near Kastamonu, on August 11, 2021. From flash floods to forest fires, drought to “sea snot”, Turkey is bearing the brunt of increasingly frequent disasters blamed on climate change. Demiroren News Agency (DHA) / AFP

Officials said one person died of a heart attack in the mayhem and an elderly women was swept away by the rushing water and remained unaccounted for.

The health ministry said eight people were also rushed to hospital when a bridge collapsed.

“From a meteorological point of view, we are perhaps facing a disaster that we had not seen in 50 or 100 years,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said of the flooding and heavy rains.

The downpours along Turkey’s northern coast came as firefighters had just about got under control wildfires in the south that have killed eight people since late July.

Turkey has been grappling with drought and a rapid succession of natural disasters that world scientists believe are becoming more frequent and violent because of climate change.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that a hospital holding 45 patients — four of them in intensive care — had been evacuated in the northern Sinop region because of flooding.

The local authority tweeted images of rescuers pulling dinghies carrying patients away from the hospital along flooded streets.

Images aired by the DHA news agency showed water covering the hospital’s ground floor.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said water levels had reached three to four metres (10 to 13 feet) in some regions along the Black Sea coast.

Images on television and social media showed water level rising to the level of street signs in some towns.

One showed about a dozens cars and a van being swept along a road that had turned into a rushing river in the northern city of Kastamonu.

The evacuations came less than a month after six people died in floods caused by heavy rains in the northeast Rize province.

Officials said that all but three of the nearly 300 fires that had been ravaging Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts since July 28 have been brought under control.