Floods kill 14 in Turkish earthquake-battered provinces

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People are rescued during floods after heavy rains in Sanliurfa, Turkey, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Floods caused by torrential rains hit two provinces that were devastated by last month's earthquake, killing at least 10 people and increasing the misery for thousands who were left homeless, officials and media reports said Wednesday. At least five other people were reported missing. (Hakan Akgun/DIA via AP)

ANKARA – Floods caused by torrential rains hit two Turkish provinces that were devastated by last month’s catastrophic earthquake, killing at least 14 people and increasing the misery for thousands who were left homeless, officials said Wednesday.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said rescue teams were still searching for five people reported missing in three locations, after the flash floods turned streets in Adiyaman and Sanliurfa provinces into rivers, swept away cars, inundated homes and drenched campsites sheltering earthquake survivors.

At least 12 people were killed in Sanliurfa, including five Syrian nationals whose bodies were found inside a flooded basement apartment and two other people who died inside a van that was trapped at an underpass.

In Adiyaman, two people drowned after surging waters swept away a container home sheltering a family of earthquake survivors.

Television footage from Sanliurfa showed flood waters surging along a street and sweeping away cars and debris. Rescuers, using a rope, were seen lifting a man to safety from the inundated underpass. Elsewhere, another person was pulled out of the floodwaters by people who dangled a twisted sheet from the window of a building.

“When I woke up, our houses were under water,” Melek Yildirim told the state-run Anadolu Agency after being evacuated from an inundated street in Sanliurfa by boat. “The situation is miserable.”

Yildirim said: “We've even forgotten about the earthquake. We've forgotten everything. Household goods, even cars were in the water. May God not allow us to live through this again.”

Several people were evacuated from camps where earthquake survivors were sheltering in tents. Patients were also evacuated from the intensive care unit of a hospital in Sanliurfa, HaberTurk reported.

The raging waters caused part of a highway in the region to collapse.

Turkey's disaster management agency said more than a dozen professional divers were involved in the rescue efforts in each of the two provinces.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck parts of Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, killing more than 52,000 people — the vast majority in Turkey. More than 200,000 buildings in Turkey either collapsed or were severely damaged.