Families of missing people hold on to hope as rescue efforts continue in Turkey’s Black Sea provinces where at least 71 people died and 47 others went missing due to the heavy floods and landslides.
The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) updated the death toll from last week’s floods to 71.
Sixty people were killed in the Kastamonu province, while 10 others died in the Sinop province and another person in the Bartın province since floods first hit the region on Aug. 11.
A total of 341 people in Bartın,1,480 in Kastamonu, and 560 in Sinop were evacuated to safe areas, AFAD added.
Search and rescue efforts are continuing in the disaster-hit region with 8,092 personnel, 1,063 vehicles, 21 helicopters, 81 ambulances, as rescue teams, crews and military staff work to clear the debris strewn across streets.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also installed a mobile bridge brought by a tank in Kastamonu’s Bozkurt district over Ezine Stream where a concrete bridge had been ripped apart by raging floodwaters.
According to local authorities, at least 454 severely damaged and ruined buildings in the three provinces and new structures will be built within the next year.
Meanwhile, Turkish experts noted that human activity on rivers and improper construction contributed to the massive flood damage, especially to the increase in the death toll.
According to experts, construction narrowed the riverbed and the surrounding alluvial flood plain of the Ezine Stream in the Bozkurt district, where the damage was most severe, from 400 meters wide to 15 meters.
Speaking to daily Milliyet, Nusret Suna, an expert from Turkey’s Chamber of Civil Engineers (IMO), reminded that apartment buildings cannot be built on the stream bed and that these constructions should not be given zoning permits by municipalities.
He noted that those who give zoning permits for stream beds and those who condone construction are responsible for escalating the scale of the disaster.
Bozkurt Mayor Muammer Yanık, however, said that all the buildings in the region have zoning permits and that all of these buildings were allowed before his term.
But Bozkurt’s previous mayor, Bozkurt Ekeş, pointed to the State Hydraulic Works, stating that the size of the stream bed cannot be measured by the municipalities.
Ekeş said that DSİ did not build the bridges over the stream properly and therefore water overflowed from the bridges and the stream bed was not sufficient.
“The walls built by DSİ were demolished here. Why did the walls by the stream collapse, no one asks this question,” Ekeş said.