Flash floods across a major highway and a commercial district in Istanbul on Wednesday killed at least 20 people and forced many others to scramble onto the roofs of cars and trucks. Some of the dead drowned inside their vehicles.
According to the AP, the tragedy followed the worst rain in 80 years as waters rose up to 2 meters high in the city's Ikitelli district, cutting off the route to Istanbul's main airport and the highway to Greece and Bulgaria on the European side of this major city.
Gov. Muammer Guler said 20 people were killed, eight people were missing and 20 others were wounded. The deaths raised the overall toll in floods that have slammed northwestern Turkey since late Monday to at least 28.
The water flipped trucks, cars and buses over, crushing them into piles of debris. Trapped motorists desperately climbed out of their vehicles, hoping to be rescued. Helicopters lifted stranded people off rooftops, while inflatable boats fought the swirling waters to go from vehicle to vehicle, picking up survivors.
Hikmet Cakmak, Istanbul's deputy governor, described the scene at Ikitelli as a "disaster" and said four helicopters and eight boats were sent to help in the rescues.
Istanbul firefighters recovered seven bodies Wednesday at a truck parking lot in Ikitelli, Anatolia new agency reported.
Seven other bodies were found outside a textiles factory in the nearby district of Halkali. According to Guler, the victims were female factory workers who drowned, trapped inside a van that had just brought them to work.
Two people died Tuesday in Istanbul's Catalca suburb and six people were swept away by floods in Saray, in Tekirdag province.