Body of 10-year-old raises death toll at southeastern reservoir to six amid claims of negligence
With the death of Semanur Parlaküşer, the number of victims has risen to six, which includes her two sisters Şeval, 6, and Betül, 8, as well as her father Osman, 34, who had jumped into the water to save his children. DHA PhotoThe body of a missing 10-year-old girl was found on Aug. 26 at the Alkumru reservoir, ending two days of search and rescue efforts in the area after the dam’s gates opened to allow a large flood of water, dragging in several people who were having a picnic nearby.
With the death of Semanur Parlaküşer, the number of victims has risen to six, which includes her two sisters Şeval, 6, and Betül, 8, as well as her father Osman, 34, who had jumped into the water to save his children.
Meanwhile, five employees from the company operating the Alkumru and Kırazlı dam, both on the Botan River, were interrogated and released under probationary conditions amid claims of negligence.
Siirt Bar Association has filed a complaint to sue Limak Holding on charges of reckless homicide. The victims were all dragged into the waters released by the dam to fill the reservoir in the afternoon hours of Aug. 24. The company, however, claimed the operation was done upon the instructions of TEİAŞ, the state company in charge of energy distribution, adding the zone was a restricted area and sirens rang before the dam’s gates were opened.
Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu regretted that people “would not take into account warnings” made by officials. “According to what they told me, warnings sounded 15 minutes before [the gates were opened]. Some of the people [at the reservoir] went out, but others stayed. Maybe they thought nothing would happen to them,” said Eroğlu. Both the Siirt Prosecution Office and the Energy Ministry have launched investigations into the accident.
But lawyers from Siirt Bar Association claimed in its complaint that the siren system was not properly activated. They also requested an investigation regarding whether the dam’s gates were opened at the same time and if there was any damage in the gates that could have resulted in the deadly accident.
‘20 victims since 2011’
The head of the Siirt Bar Association, Cemal Acar, claimed more than 20 people have died in the same area and similar circumstances since September 2011, when the dam was opened. Acar told news website Bianet the sound of the sirens was not loud enough, according to an expert report prepared as part of an ongoing trial launched into a previous incident in which three people died.
Acar added that experts had suggested in their report a safe way be used by the security guards to warn people before filling the reservoir.
“The expert report also states the gates should be opened one by one and in a controlled manner. But we think all three of the dam’s gates were opened simultaneously,” said Acar, accusing the company of not adopting the measures recommended by experts and officials for failing to perform the due checks.
“The company is shutting its eyes to the deadly accidents happening every year by not adopting these security measures, which don’t have any cost. The Environment and Urbanism Ministry and the State Water Affairs, meanwhile, are also responsible for not performing the necessary monitoring,” he said.
Dam opened by Gül and Erdoğan
The dam built by Limak was opened during a lavish ceremony in 2011 with the attendance of both President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Alkumru Dam was built on the Botan River, which is a small subsidiary that connects to the Tigris River.
Limak, who operates a total of 23 hydroelectric power plants, was one of the five companies included in the consortium that won the tender for Istanbul’s third airport.
Nihat Özdemir, the chairman of Limak, was among the list of detainees in an aborted graft investigation that was revealed last December.