6 dead, 10 missing as flooding hits Turkey's Black Sea coast

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People inspect the destruction after floods caused by heavy rain in the mountain town of Dereli in Giresun province, along Turkey's Black Sea coastline, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said four people have died and 11 people are still missing after flooding around Dereli.(AP Photo)

ANKARA – Flooding caused by heavy rains has killed six people along Turkey's Black Sea coast and left 10 others missing, including some rescue workers, officials said Sunday.

Television footage showed vehicles and debris being swept away by floods on the main road of the mountain town of Dereli, which lies 12 miles (20 kilometers) inland from the Black Sea in Giresun province. Bridges, roads and buildings were washed away by what Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said was more than five inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain in less than a day.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a natural disaster,” Pakdemirli said from Dereli. “The town’s skyline has changed.”

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Giresun to oversee rescue efforts, said 153 people had been rescued from the floods. He said 98 villages in the region were cut off and 38 were without electricity. About 20 people were stranded in a wedding hall in Dereli.

Two of the dead were police officers whose vehicle was swept away by the floods. Three of their colleagues and the operator of a mechanical digger are among the missing. Their vehicles fell into a ravine when a main road collapsed as they traveled to the disaster area.

Across the province, 17 buildings were destroyed and more than 360 were damaged, officials said.

Heavy rain along Turkey's Black Sea coast on Saturday evening also saw apartment buildings evacuated after landslides in Rize province, 110 miles (180 kilometers) east of Giresun.

At this time of year, the Black Sea region's population is swollen by seasonal workers who travel to harvest tea and hazelnuts and live in flimsy camps.

Meteorologists forecast more heavy storms ahead for Giresun and the neighboring provinces of Trabzon, Rize and Artvin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at an event in Istanbul, vowed to help those affected by the floods.

“As a state, we will quickly overcome the destruction and devastation here with God’s will,” Erdogan said.