Inadequate infrastructure and chaotic urban development are being blamed for floods that have devastated Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
As a result, the heaviest rainfall in 80 years was unable to drain into the sea and caused flash floods to surge through city-centre streets.
At least 20 people were drowned after they became trapped in their vehicles when six feet of water cascaded across major highway and into busy business districts.
Because of rapid population growth from decades of emigration from Turkey’s rural regions, the 15 million-strong metropolis developed without the infrastructure to handle even moderate rainfall.
Says World Wildlife Fund’s Turkey director, Filiz Demirayak: ‘The rains are not able to reach the sea through natural channels due to skewed and unplanned development.”
Thus hundreds of homes and offices were flooded, and the TEM highway, which connects central Istanbul to Greece and Bulgaria, was cut off.
Helicopters plucked people off rooftops in Ikitelli, a district of media offices and corporate headquarters about 20km from the Bosphorus strait.