Turkey’s capital Ankara struggles to recover from deadly floods


Heavy rains that caused flooding in the capital Ankara over the weekend rattled city residents who were unaccustomed to such downpours in June. The floods, which washed away trees and inundated buildings in several neighborhoods, were also Ankara’s deadliest in recent memory, killing three people. On Monday, residents of the town sought to recover from the impact of the disaster, cleaning up shops and streets as the waters receded.

Meanwhile, weather forecasts point to more showers for most of the country, including the capital, where rainfall has been sporadic following flooding on Saturday.

The most affected part of the capital was Akyurt, a district in the northeast of the city, with a population of around 34,000 people. But the first victim was a driver trapped in floodwaters in a rural part of Altındağ district. The body of the driver, a 27-year-old man, was found near his vehicle which was flooded as he tried to flee. The other victims were a 21-year-old man who was electrocuted when floodwaters flooded the store where he worked and a 67-year-old man who fell from a wall he tried to climb while fleeing the waters of raging floods. Another man is still missing in the floods.

Ankara municipality officials said they responded to “6,670 incidents” during the downpours and high winds, which started earlier last week and continued through the weekend, from collapsed walls to people trapped in their vehicles or residences.

Search and rescue teams worked around the clock to respond to emergencies during the floods while Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu visited flood-hit sites over the weekend, surveying the damage. The Ankara governorate announced that schools were closed on Monday after weather forecasts showed more rainfall.

Serkan Demir, an Akyurt resident who was working to drain water flooding his shop, told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) on Sunday that it took “about 20 minutes” for the floods to “take over”. . “All the shops and apartment building basements were full of water,” he said.

On Sunday evening, bulldozers and crews removed debris left by flooding and helped residents drain floodwaters, while heavy vehicles like trucks were parked outside buildings on lower ground, serving blockade against possible flooding. Akyurt was without power for hours due to the disaster. Work continued until Monday, with workers using handcarts to transport mud covering the streets in some places. The heaviest damage occurred in neighborhoods near Esenboğa Airport, the city’s main aviation hub, as floodwaters submerged fields and gardens.

Environment, Town Planning and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum visited a rural part of Haymana, another flood-affected district on Monday. Kurum encountered citizens whose mudbrick homes and stables were devastated by the disaster. Kurum said they would deliver prefabricated housing and tents to the area to accommodate residents and their livestock.

Floods have been increasingly frequent in Turkey in recent years, although they have been largely confined to the Black Sea region, which generally has a rainy climate. Even there, the floods have been more intense, killing dozens in recent years. Experts link this increase to climate change. The situation in Ankara has also been linked to the global phenomenon. Professor Murat Türkeş, board member of the Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies at Istanbul Boğaziçi University, says such incidents are not necessarily related to climate change, but rather the climate change contributes to their “changing characteristics and aggravates them”.

“Central Anatolia (where the capital is located) is the meeting point of cold and hot weather coming from the south and the east and from the west and the north. They have different humidities and temperatures and once that they meet, it causes showers. Climate change is further increasing vaporization. Hot air masses contain more vapor and, therefore, they cause more intense precipitation,” he told Reuters on Monday. ‘Anadolu Agency (AA). He said climate models showed that Turkey would experience heavier rainfall in the coming years while drought would affect some areas. “Local authorities should be better prepared for this. We need ways to prevent flood waters from inundating central parts of cities. Rainwater harvesting can help, by blocking the mixing of water with water systems. groundwater and helping to use water efficiently,” he said.

Professor Levent Kurnaz, director of the centre, says improving infrastructure should be a priority as it would minimize flood damage. “It’s a costly issue and not all municipalities are ready to cover it,” he added. Kurnaz told AA that “drainage load” was another factor in worsening flooding. “Unfortunately, there are no separate channels in most of Turkey for the drainage of rainwater and waste water. We need systems for proper absorption of rainwater. Water is something you can store and use later. Cities now have too much ‘concrete’ and there is no room for rainwater absorption. We need to design new systems to achieve this. “, did he declare.

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