By ANDREW WILKS Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Five people have died in floods caused by heavy rain along Turkey’s Black Sea coastline, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
A further 11 people were missing after flooding around the mountain town of Dereli in Giresun province.
“As a state, we will quickly overcome the destruction and devastation here with God’s will,” Erdogan said at an event in Istanbul.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Giresun to oversee rescue efforts, said 153 people had been saved.
One of the dead was a police officer whose vehicle was swept away by the floods. Four of his colleagues and the operator of a mechanical digger operator are among the missing. Their vehicles fell into a ravine when a main road collapsed in the flood as they traveled to the disaster area.
Television footage showed vehicles and debris being carried by floodwater along the main road of Dereli, which lies around 12 miles (20 kilometers) inland. 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 rainfall 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.”
Soylu 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.
Across the province, 17 buildings were destroyed and more than 360 damaged with another 31 evacuated.
Heavy rain along the 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 the year, the Black Sea region’s population is swollen by seasonal workers who travel for the tea and hazelnut harvest, many living in camps.
Meteorologists forecast heavy storms in Giresun and the neighboring provinces of Trabzon, Rize and Artvin for later Sunday.