Erdoğan offers financial aid to Istanbul flood victims

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved financial help for businesses in Istanbul affected by a flash flood at the weekend.

The business owners in the Eminonu district, located adjacent to the Bosporus around the Grand Bazaar, saw their shops and premises immersed by a deluge of water. They qualify for as much as 100,000 liras ($17,500) in loans apiece with a grace period on repayments of one year, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The government and political opposition have sparred publicly over who was responsible for the flood damage, which hit Istanbul on Saturday. Many analysts say a construction frenzy in Istanbul has left the city with few green spaces, meaning flood water cannot be absorbed by the soil.

The loans will be provided by the emergency support programme of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization of Turkey (KOSGEB), Varank said.

Media close to Erdoğan’s governing party have blamed new Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu for failing to take timely precautions against the flood and accused him of neglect for being on vacation as people struggled with the immediate aftermath. Imamoğlu said the government’s meteorological office failed to warn the city in a timely manner.