Shopkeepers try to save their goods at a flooded underground passage in Istanbul.—Reuters
Shopkeepers try to save their goods at a flooded underground passage in Istanbul.—Reuters

ISTANBUL: Strong rains in Istanbul on Saturday flooded several neighbourhoods, as well as the Grand Bazaar, while officials said one person was found dead in the city.

Rain started early in the day in parts of Istanbul and picked up pace around noon.

Footage from parts of the Grand Bazaar showed shopkeepers, ankle-deep in water, clearing the water out of their stores and the halls. It also showed water pouring out of a hole on the wall into the bazaar, as well as a manhole left open to drain the flood.

A homeless man was found dead in the Unkapani area on the European side of the city due to the flood, the spokesman for the Istanbul municipality said on Twitter.

Several roads across Istanbul, including parts of the road on the shores of the Bakirkoy district and a section of one of the city’s main highways, had also been submerged, Istanbul municipality’s Disaster Coordination Centre (AKOM) said.

The rains also flooded an underpass where several shops are located in the Eminonu neighbourhood, it said. Footage on Turkish media showed hundreds of books and goods floating in the water as shopkeepers submerged up to their waists worked to clear the area.

AKOM said 114 kilograms of rain per square metre had fallen in the Fatih district, where the Grand Bazaar, as well as the Unkapani and Eminonu areas, are located.

Flash floods briefly halted the ferry services connecting Asian and European sides of the city, while authorities warned citizens to be careful in the adverse weather conditions.

Floods which lasted around two hours also affected the historic Grand Bazaar — one of the world’s oldest covered markets — with shop owners rushing to evacuate the water.

The private NTV television reported many cars stranded in traffic and rescued by fire engine teams. In one district, a parked car fell into a pit the heavy rain had caused on the road, NTV added.

On Saturday, Turkey marked the anniversary of the 7.4-magnitude quake that hit Izmit — around 100 kilometres east of Istanbul — on August 17, 1999, killing at least 17,400 people, including 1,000 within the economic capital of the country.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019