23 feared dead as devastating floods hit Turkey

A Turkish woman awaits rescuers on her balcony following heavy morning rain in Istanbul.
At least 23 people were feared dead on Wednesday after two days of torrential rains triggered flash floods in northwestern Turkey, sweeping cars into the sea and sending gushing water into homes and businesses.

Sixteen people were believed to have been killed in Istanbul province and five in neighboring Tekirdag province, according to provincial officials. Three of the five killed in Tekirdag were from the same family. Another two people were feared dead in Tekirdag province. Among the dead in Istanbul were seven women textile workers who were trapped in their minivan, CNN sister network CNN Turk reported. Witnesses in the city of Istanbul said the flash floods hit at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, washing through an industrial zone situated in a low-lying valley. Dozens of cargo trucks flipped over or were ripped to pieces, the wreckage attracting crowds who watched the chaotic scene from nearby hilltops. Several roads in Istanbul city remained closed, including the airport road, CNN Turk said. Rescue missions were in full swing with military helicopters whirring overhead. Residents were advised not to wander from their homes. “We never had such rain in all the time I have been here,” said Zafer Ercan, deputy mayor of the town of Silivri, an hour west of Istanbul city. He said more than 200 cars were washed into the Marmara Sea and 800 homes and businesses were flooded in the neighboring town of Selimpasa.

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The rain stopped Tuesday evening, but resumed early Wednesday. Heavy overnight rain flooded western neighborhoods in Istanbul city. The amount of rain that has fallen in two days roughly equals what normally falls in six months in the Turkish province, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler told the state-run Anatolia News Agency.