Opposition slams defiant gov’t for flooding failure
The main opposition will open a criminal file against those responsible for the flooding disaster in Samsun, its leader Kılıçdaroğlu says during a visit to the province. AA Photo
Turkey’s main opposition leader has excoriated the government and the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) over a Samsun flood that killed 10 people, many in state-built houses, even as the ruling party continued to deny any wrongdoing in the incident.
“It is outrageous that TOKİ, instead of protecting the environment, preventing illegal housing and producing projects that allow people to live in safer houses, builds buildings on landfills, riverbanks and former dump sites,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that his body would file a criminal complaint against those responsible. “You punish and fine a citizen who builds a house on a river bank. You say, ‘Why did you build your house here? There was a flood and there were casualties because of the flood. Your relatives died.’ Now, if the state does the same thing, if TOKİ does it, who are we going to blame?”
Up to 10 people are now confirmed to have been killed in the flooding in the Black Sea province.
Kılıçdaroğlu yesterday visited the TOKİ Kuzey Yıldız Konutları building complex, where some 450 houses were affected by the flood, many cars were dragged into the river, and trees were uprooted due to strong floodwaters.
Administrators who issued a reconstruction permit for the ground floors of the buildings are responsible for the deaths of the flood victims, Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the area had been a dump site, it was previously a landfill. “How can people build such tall buildings at a landfill? It is outrageous.”
While many blame TOKİ for the deaths, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar denied any wrongdoing, but added that if anyone was to be held responsible, he should be punished.
“TOKİ did not make any mistakes. There is neither damage nor breakage in the houses. We will do whatever is needed. The places that were flooded number 850. Therefore, we will continue our investigations,” Bayraktar said during his visit to the flooded area.
“We are sorry about this. We will do whatever is needed in this regard. We have lost five people in TOKİ housing, and the responsibility for the people that we have lost is ours. And if there is anyone who is at fault, starting with me, he should be punished,” Bayraktar said.
Heavy rain and flooding in Samsun expanded to another Black Sea province, Sinop, yesterday. Forty people who were trapped in the Ayancık and Türkeli districts of Sinop were saved by two helicopters provided by the General Staff.
Bridges on the Mert River were shut down due to risk of collapse, while the road between Samsun and Ordu was also closed to traffic.
“People became the victims of a murder called ‘flooding’ in the middle of the city in Samsun,” CHP deputy group chairman Emine Ülker Tarhan said.
Three Cabinet ministers, Bayraktar, Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu and Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç, also visited the flood area yesterday.
Eroğlu said what happened was a “natural disaster.” “Samsun is a risky area in terms of flooding. We are taking the necessary measures,” he said.