ANKARA / KASTAMONU, Turkey
Visiting areas of the country’s Black Sea region hardest hit by floods, as the death toll rose to 38, Turkey’s president on Friday tried to reassure locals affected by the high waters.
“The state will do its best as quickly as possible, and hopefully we will rise from the ashes again.” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Bozkurt, Kastamonu, the province that has seen the most fatalities since heavy rains began on Wednesday.
The president added that after doing field assessment together with Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, and Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum, they will take necessary steps.
Rescue and relief operations are continuing in the flood-hit areas.
Floods caused by heavy rains left 32 people dead in the Kastamonu province, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, announcing the revised death toll.
Six others died in the Sinop province, while one is missing in the Bartin province.
Erdogan also underlined that a total of 4,760 personnel, 19 helicopters, one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), 66 ambulances, 41 rescue teams, 630 service vehicles, 437 construction machines, and a great deal of equipment are operating in the field.
"We have taken all emergency measures (in the flood area), from credit support to tax deferrals," he said.
Erdogan went on to say that 120 teams across three provinces are doing damage assessment, adding that state institutions "are working without a break" in the region affected by the disaster.
"We can’t bring back our people who lost their lives, but our state has the power, potential, and determination to compensate for any loss other than that," he added.
Disaster area declaration
Later in the day, Erdogan announced the declaration of a disaster area for the places affected.
Those places will be able to do tax deferral and postpone Social Security Institution payments for tradesman. Assistance to cover property, vehicle, and workplace losses will also be provided.
While loan repayments of businesses will be postponed, the Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development Organization of Turkey (KOSGEB) will prepare an emergency support plan for disaster-hit areas.
Earlier in the day, the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) said 112 villages in Kastamonu and 86 villages in Sinop had been left without electricity, adding that 20 million Turkish liras ($2.4 million) has been allocated for disaster relief there.
Over 895 workers in Bartin, 2,333 in Kastamonu, and 1,532 in Sinop are carrying out relief work in the affected areas, according to a previous agency statement.
A total of 323 people in Bartin, 925 in Kastamonu, and 472 in Sinop were evacuated to safe areas by helicopters and boats, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
He said 220 volunteers, nine catering trucks, and 42 vehicles sent by the Turkish Red Crescent to the region are working on the ground.
Volunteers, NGOs, and humanitarian groups in the region continue their work in coordination with AFAD and other relevant public institutions, Altun said, praising their efforts.