Flood kills nine people as ministry comes under fire
SAMSUN - Doğan News Agency
DHA photoHeavy rain and flooding killed nine people in the Black Sea province of Samsun yesterday, including six children. Two people are still reported missing and 21 have been injured, Samsun Governor Hüseyin Aksoy said.
The ground floor of many homes built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) were flooded and risked collapse after Mert River in Samsun’s Canik neighborhood spilled over its banks due to heavy rain.
TOKİ has blamed weather conditions, “which poured more rain than calculated” for the damage.
Urban transformation in the neighborhood has prevented “possible grave results,” TOKİ said in a statement. “Shanty houses were demolished and new houses were built in compliance with regulations.”
Minister of Urban Planning and Environment Erdoğan Bayraktar has said “he does not think TOKİ was faulty .” Some 450 houses in the Kuzey Yıldız Konutları building complex were affected by the flood while many cars were dragged into the river and trees were uprooted due to strong floodwaters.
Bridges on Mert River were shut down due to risk of collapse while the road between Samsun and Ordu provinces was also closed to traffic.
Location of housings
The TOKİ buildings were located between two branches of Mert River which flooded the ground floors causing deaths and injuries, according to reports.
Bayraktar, who was in charge of TOKİ’s management when the flooded houses were built in Samsun in 2010, told reporters he “does not consider TOKİ to be at fault for building the apartments close to the river.”
The incident should have been thoroughly investigated before TOKİ was criticized for the buildings’ location, Bayraktar said.
According to Bayraktar, TOKİ officials also denied negligence claims saying “the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works built revetments on the sides of Yılandere River but the over-increased rate of water flow collapsed the walls,” in a written statement they issued.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has applied to the Speakership of Parliament to establish a commission to investigate TOKİ’s operations, deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu said.
Search and rescue operations were started after the flood with the Turkish military using three helicopters to aid in the efforts. Officials made announcements to warn occupants living near the river to be on alert in case of continued flooding.
Samsun Mayor Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz arrived at the scene of the flood to observe rescue operations.The Samsun-Ordu road in Canik district was closed to traffic for a few hours as a precaution against the possibility of a landslide.
Daily News reporter Erdem Güneş contributed to this report.