Five people drown in southeastern Turkey reservoir

Five people drown in southeastern Turkey reservoir

Five people drown in southeastern Turkey reservoir

Rescue operations that continued into the early hours of Aug. 25. AA Photo

Five people have drowned in the restricted Alkumru reservoir in the southeastern province of Siirt, while one person is still missing, officials have said amid claims from the local bar of negligence.

A large number of people entered the empty reservoir on the Botan River for a picnic on Aug. 24, but at around 6 p.m. the dam’s gates suddenly opened to allow large flows of water to pour into the reservoir.

Four of the 10 people at the picnic were saved by local rescue teams. The bodies of the five were found during rescue operations that continued into the early hours, while Siirt Deputy Gov. Mustafa Pala confirmed that another body was still missing.

Meanwhile, the company operating the dam, Limak, rejected any responsibility for the incident, saying it had activated sirens and alarms to warn people that the dam’s gates were opening and had followed the Turkish Electricity Transmission Company’s (TEİAŞ) instructions when filling the reservoir.

Siirt Bar Association head Mehmet Cemal Acar accused the company firm that runs the dam of negligence in releasing the water.

“The victims in the incident did not hear any siren at all and the dam’s waters came much more quickly and in a more uncontrollable fashion than normal,” said Acar, adding that they would file a criminal complaint. “The dam’s managers are at fault.”

Acar also said authorities should construct roads within the area subject to periodic flooding so that they can notify people by car ahead of any planned flooding. “The third gate should be opened a certain period of time after the second gate is opened, while this should be done in a controlled fashion. Also warning signs should have been placed at regular intervals. Unfortunately, none of this was done.”