Milwaukee photojournalist narrowly misses flash flood that kills 14 in earthquake-battered Türkiye
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 on March 15.
Milwaukee Indpenent’s senior photojournalist was in Adiyaman on the same day, documenting the condition of survivors with the assistance of Türk Kizilay, the Turkish Red Crescent. Heavy rains hampered some of the team’s outdoor work, but they relocated later on March 15 to Antakya and narrowly missed the impact of the flooding.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said rescue teams had searched 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 underwater,” Melek Yildirim told the state-run Anadolu Agency after being evacuated from an inundated street in Sanliurfa by boat. “The situation is miserable.”
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.
“We’ve even forgotten about the earthquake. We’ve forgotten everything. Household goods, even cars were in the water,” said Yildirim. “May God not allow us to live through this again.”
The raging waters caused part of a highway in the region to collapse. Türkiye’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 Türkiye and Syria on February 6, killing more than 52,000 people — the vast majority in Türkiye. More than 200,000 buildings in Türkiye either collapsed or were severely damaged.