Flash floods triggered by heavy rains have hit the provinces of Adiyaman and Sanliurfa in Turkey, causing devastation for thousands of people who were already homeless due to the catastrophic earthquake last month.
The floods have killed at least 14 people, with several still missing, and have turned streets into rivers, swept away cars, and inundated homes and campsites.
The Interior Minister has confirmed that rescue teams are searching for those reported missing. In Sanliurfa, five Syrian nationals were among the twelve killed, while two others died in a van trapped under an underpass.
Two people drowned in Adiyaman after surging waters swept away their container home, which had been sheltering a family of earthquake survivors.
The disaster has hit two Turkish provinces that were devastated by an earthquake last month. Flash floods swept away cars and inundated homes, campsites, and temporary housing set up for earthquake victims.
Pressure on Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing intense public criticism ahead of his difficult reelection on May 14 over his government’s slow response to the recent earthquake disaster that struck the region.
Despite issuing public apologies, Erdogan emphasized that no nation could have responded quickly to a disaster of such scale. In recent weeks, Erdogan has been touring the region, meeting survivors and promising to rebuild the entire area within a year.
During a parliamentary address, he pledged to build 319,000 houses by the end of next year and restore the cities destroyed in the earthquake within the same timeframe.
Erdogan has dispatched his Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, to oversee the government’s response in the flooded region, where at least 12 people were killed in Sanliurfa, about 50 kilometers north of the Syrian border, and two people, including a 1-year-old, died in nearby Adiyaman, with five still missing.
Torrential rains hit the area on Tuesday, and the weather service expects them to last until late Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish quake survivors have been moved into tents and container homes across the disaster region, which covers 11 provinces in Turkey’s southeast.
Images showed the floodwaters sweeping away cars and inundating the temporary housing set up for earthquake victims. The flooding even reached the ground floor of one of the region’s main hospitals.
Soylu informed reporters that currently, ten teams composed of 163 people are conducting search and rescue operations across a 25-kilometre stretch, including divers. However, the severe weather conditions are not allowing them to do much.
Erdogan’s promise to restore the devastated region within a year will undoubtedly place tremendous pressure on the government and further, exacerbate Erdogan’s already challenging reelection campaign.
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