Image: Vehicles damaged in flood
Ibrahim Usta  /  AP
Debris and damaged vehicles are seen after flash floods in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday. news services
updated 9/11/2009 10:14:56 AM ET 2009-09-11T14:14:56

Authorities say they are bracing for more heavy rain in Turkey as rescuers continue searching for nine people dragged away by flood waters in the country's northwest.

The floods triggered by the heaviest rain in eight decades have killed at least 31 people in Istanbul and elsewhere in northwestern Turkey.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after touring the flood area in Istanbul by helicopter Thursday that construction in dry stream beds that fill up during heavy rain would be torn down.

Authorities said Friday they have alerted rescue workers against new flooding in several provinces.

Slideshow: Flash floods Officials estimate the damage in Istanbul and surrounding areas will cost more than $100 million.

Waves of muddy waters pulling cars, trees and debris crashed into homes and buildings early on Wednesday as people were getting up to break their fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

"We heard a crashing sound and then saw the waters coming down carrying cars and debris," said Nuri Bitken, a 42-year-old night guard at a truck garage.

"We tried to wake up those who were still asleep in the trucks but some didn't make it. The dead had to be retrieved by boats," Bitken told Reuters.

The bodies of seven women were discovered in Bagcilar, a working-class suburb of Istanbul, on Wednesday. They had drowned in a minibus that was taking them to jobs at a textile factory.

Istanbul's ancient district of Sultanahmet, with its mosques, the palaces of the waterfront and Beyoglu's area of narrow streets were largely unaffected.

The mayor of the capital Ankara has warned people in low-lying areas to be vigilant.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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