At least 23 people are now known to have died as freak storms batter northwestern Turkey. Istanbul, the biggest city, was worst-hit: flash floods cut a major highway out to the airport, stranding hundreds of rush-hour drivers as a wall of water surged down the road. Amid the panic, people scrambled to escape the rising water; among the dead are seven women trapped in a minibus as they headed to work.
It had been raining for hours, but the sudden jump in water level caught many by surprise. The emergency services were almost powerless to help: even getting to stranded drivers proved all-but impossible. The drama started late on Monday as the storm unleashed torrential rain. Nine people were reported killed on Tuesday, eight others were simply swept away. Western Turkey suffered most, but there are reports of similar scenes in neighbouring Bulgaria. For the survivors, the shock is overwhelming. Some of the worst flooding came in low-lying working class parts of western Istanbul, where drainage is poor. The storm and its floods are the worst to hit the city for 80 years. The scars will take a long time to heal.