Families await news on fate of loved ones amid rising flood death toll in Turkey

Families of those missing after Turkey’s worst floods in years anxiously watched rescue teams search buildings on Saturday, fearing the death toll from the raging torrents could rise further.

At least 44 people have died from the floods in the northern Black Sea region.

Drone footage by Reuters showed massive damage in the flood-hit Black Sea town of Bozkurt, where emergency workers were searching demolished buildings.

Thirty-six people died as a result of floods in the Kastamonu district, which includes Bozkurt, and another seven people died in Sinop and one in Bartin, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate said.

Rescue workers search through debris at the site of a collapsed building in Bozkurt on Saturday. (The Associated Press)

In one collapsed building, 10 people were still believed buried. The rapid floodwaters appeared to have swept away the foundations of several other apartment blocks.

‘So many casualties’

Relatives of the missing are desperate for news.

“This is unprecedented. There is no power. The mobile phones were dead. There was no reception. You couldn’t receive news from anyone,” said Ilyas Kalabalik, a 42-year-old resident.

People console each other on Saturday in Bozkurt, where the flash floods collapsed buildings. Flooding in Turkey’s Black Sea region has killed dozens of people. (Bulent Usta/Reuters)

“We had no idea whether the water was rising or not, whether it flooded the building or not. We were just waiting, like this. Our wives and children were panicked. Once sun came up in the morning, we saw police officers. They took us from the building and hurled us into a gas station.”

About 45 centimetres of rain fell in less than three days in one village near Bozkurt.

The wreckage of a vehicle is seen amid a pile of debris in Bozkurt on Saturday. (Bulent Usta/Reuters)

Torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed bridges, closed roads and cut off electricity to hundreds of villages.

“We were working in our textile workshop, and the electricity was cut off. Then we found out that the hydroelectric dam had overflowed. We left the factories and ran for our lives,” Emine Rencler said.

Workers clear mud from a Bozkurt street on Saturday in the aftermath of the flooding. (The Associated Press)

“At least 60, 70 people I know are still missing. My neighbours, my colleagues, my relatives,” Rencler said

“We have so many casualties.”

A bumper car from an amusement park is seen Saturday amid debris in Bozkurt after flash floods swept through towns in the Turkish Black Sea region. (Mehmet Emin Caliskan/Reuters)

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