Deadly flash floods hit Istanbul

At least 31 people were killed across the region and dozens were stranded in cars or on rooftops and an unknown number remain missing.

Three of the deaths occurred in western suburbs of Istanbul on 8 September, 21 people lost their lives in Istanbul on 9 September and seven more in neighbouring Tekirdağ Province, where two further people are missing. Muammer Guler, governor of Istanbul, said 20 people were injured by the floods. Officials and experts have blamed the high death toll on unplanned urbanisation in Istanbul, which has seen buildings constructed in river beds, and an inadequate infrastructure system.

In some places the water reached a metre (3 ft) in depth, cutting access to Istanbul’s main airport and the highway running to Bulgaria and Greece. According to state-run news agency, Anatolia News, one building collapsed, although there were no reported casualties.

Police have been deployed to prevent looting from abandoned shops and factories, although the press has recorded instances of looting from vehicles. In north-west Turkey two bridges on the Bahçeköy–Saray highway were also destroyed by floods at the same time. More than 200 cars have been washed into the Marmara Sea and dozens of trucks damaged.

Since the floods began on Tuesday, over 1000 people have been rescued by emergency services. Turkish officials have also stated that over 900 firefighters and rescuers are working in the affected areas, backed up by a fleet of over 200 vehicles and 30 dinghies. Interior Minister Beşir Atalay has pledged to compensate residents of Istanbul affected by the floods. The Red Crescent Society has dispatched tents, blankets, food and personnel to the area to help survivors.

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