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Death toll from Turkey’s flash floods rises to nine

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Turkish rescuers distributed food and relocated thousands of people into student dormitories Thursday as the death toll from flash floods that swept across several Black Sea regions rose to nine, Agence France-Presse reported.

Heavy storms descended on Turkey’s northern stretches just as rescuers reported bringing hundreds of wildfires that have killed nine people since late July under near total control in the south.

Turkey has been grappling with drought and a rapid succession of natural disasters that world scientists believe are becoming more frequent and violent because of climate change.

Heavy rains late Tuesday produced flash floods that turned streets into running rivers and sparked mudslides that buckled roads in three northern regions.

Rescuers were forced to evacuate a regional hospital holding 45 patients — four of them in intensive care — in the region around the coastal city of Sinop on Wednesday.

Images on television and social media showed water rising to the level of street signs in some towns.

Turkey’s disaster response authority said five people had lost their lives while the search for one person who disappeared in the northern city of Bartın continued.

It said more than 1,000 rescuers were working in the region while Turkish Red Crescent teams were distributing food packages and hot meals.

Officials said more than 5,000 spaces had been allocated in student dormitories to shelter those displaced by the floods.

“We are perhaps facing a disaster that we had not seen in 50 or 100 years,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said of the flooding and heavy rains on Wednesday.

The disaster struck less than a month after six people died in floods caused by heavy rains in the northeast Rize province.

Turkey’s mountainous Black Sea regions frequently experience heavy rains that produce flash floods and mudslides in the summer months.

Officials said that all but three of the nearly 300 fires that had been ravaging Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts since July 28 have been brought under control.

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