ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish authorities said Thursday the death toll from the severe floods and mudslides that struck the north of the country has risen to 17, and one more person is still reported missing.
The floods battered the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun on Wednesday, demolishing homes and bridges and sweeping away cars. Helicopters scrambled to rescue people stranded on rooftops.
As floodwaters began to recede across the affected regions in Turkey's north, a statement from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said rescuers had recovered six bodies in Kastamonu.
Later Thursday, nine more bodies were found in the worst-hit town of Bozkurt, in Kastamonu, and two bodies were found in Sinop. An 80-year-old woman was reported missing in Bartin province.
The disaster struck as firefighters in southwest Turkey worked to extinguish a wildfire in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea. The blaze, which was brought under control on Thursday, was one of more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28. At least eight people and countless animals died and thousands of residents have had to flee fierce blazes.
Climate scientists say there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms. Such calamities are expected to happen more frequently on our warming planet.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a message of condolences for the 17 victims and said his ruling party was postponing Saturday's celebrations for the 20th anniversary of its founding due to the “disasters we lived through in the past days.”
Floodwaters inundated much of Bozkurt. One building collapsed and a second building was damaged in the town, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. In Bartin province, at least 13 people were injured when a section of a bridge caved in.
The military said its helicopters airlifted 80 people to safety in the region. Overall, more than 1,400 people were evacuated to safe areas, and hundreds were being housed in student dormitories, AFAD said.
Hundreds of villages in the affected areas were left without power and several roads were blocked.
Turkey’s Black Sea region is frequently struck by severe rains and flash flooding. At least six people were killed in floods that hit the eastern Black Sea coastal province of Rize last month.
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