Death Toll From Floods in Northern Turkey Reaches 27

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Search-and-rescue crews in northern Turkey recovered 10 more bodies overnight, raising the death toll from the severe floods and mudslides that struck the region to 27, officials said on Friday. Dozens more people were believed to be missing.

Torrential rains pounded the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun on Wednesday, causing the flooding that demolished homes and bridges and swept away cars. Helicopters lifted dozens of people to safety from rooftops, others were rescued on boats. More than 1,700 people were evacuated across the region and many were being temporarily housed at student dormitories.

In worst-hit Kastamonu, a stream burst its banks inundating much of the town of Bozkurt, where most of the victims were found. One building was demolished and two others were severely damaged amid torrents of floodwaters.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said Friday that crews are still searching for a woman who was reported missing in Bartin province. Private NTV television said however, that dozens of people remain unaccounted for.

They include 12-year-old twin sisters and their grandparents who were trapped inside an eight-story building in Bozkurt, their mother told private DHA news agency.

Speaking in Bozkurt late Thursday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu described the scenes as "the most severe flood disaster I have seen." On Wednesday, he said, flood waters reached three or four meters (10-13 feet) high in some areas. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who canceled celebrations marking his ruling party's 20th anniversary, was scheduled to travel to the area.

"The destruction is huge," Kerem Kinik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent, told NTV. "I hope that the missing are safe and that the number of deaths doesn't increase."

Bozkurt resident Yilmaz Ersevenli told NTV that he left his house to move his car to a safe area as the waters began to rise, but soon got swept away by the gushing floods. He managed to save himself by holding on to a tree that had also washed away.

"I nearly lost my life trying to save my car," he said.

In Bartin province, at least 13 people were injured when a section of a bridge caved in.

In total, five bridges collapsed in the floods while two others were damaged, AFAD said. Dozens of villages are still without power and several roads remain blocked.

Erdogan said Thursday that at least 4,500 personnel, 19 helicopters and 24 boats were involved in the search-and-rescue operation.

Turkey's Black Sea region is frequently struck by severe rains and flash flooding. At least six people were killed in floods that hit the eastern Black Sea coastal province of Rize last month.

The disaster struck as firefighters in southwest Turkey worked to extinguish a wildfire in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea. The blaze, which was brought under control on Thursday, was one of more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28. At least eight people died and thousands of residents have had to flee.

Climate scientists say there is little doubt that climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms. Such calamities are expected to happen more frequently as the planet warms.