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Cablegate: Edirne Floods - Again

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIT #1006 3270842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230842Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7688
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 001006

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: EDIRNE FLOODS - AGAIN

1.(U) On November 20, flood waters poured into the
provincial capital of Edirne, Turkey -- 150 kilometers west
of Istanbul. The flood, the result of a decision by the
Bulgarian government to release excess water from Ivailovgrad
Dam, inundated various roads and communities in the region.
The Gendarmerie and divers from the Istanbul Civil Defense
Department remain on the scene to address any emergencies and
to distribute supplies to affected residents. Despite the
damage, the Bulgarian Embassy maintains that it gave plenty
of warning to the Turkish government both of the pending
release of water and of the potential flood risk posed. The
Turkish government has not/not requested international
assistance.

2.(U) THE DAMAGE: On November 20, the Meric, Arda, and Tunca
rivers crested in western Edirne province. The combined flow
flooded the Orhaniye-Elicili highway, Er Square, the Balkan
military cemetery, Mehmetcik Tavern, the Hall of Justice, and
various fishing and agricultural communities. As a result of
the floods, the Yalnizgoz, Fatih, and Kanuni bridges, as well
as Turkey's largest border gates -- the Kapikule and
Pazarkule -- were closed to traffic, thus stranding nearly
7,000 residents in the Karaagac and Silivri areas of Edirne.
The State Meteorology Department forecasts continued
precipitation in the region and has issued further flood and
landslide warnings. That said, despite 300,000 YTL in aid
from the Prime Minister's Office and the allocation of
blankets, food, and medicine by the Istanbul Metropolitan
Municipality the cost is expected to climb.

3.(U) AN ANNUAL EVENT: The flooding of the Meric is an
annual occurrence; in fact, The State Waterworks Authority
(DSI) cleared the banks of the Meric earlier this year in an
attempt to prevent this very event. The Bulgarians blame the
Turks for any damage resulting from the flood, pointing to
the Turkish government's failure to adequately prepare in
advance. The Turks -- Edirne Governor Nusret Miroglu in
particular -- cite reinforcement work performed on dikes in
2005, 2006, and 2007, as proof of preparation, and instead
blame the damage on a discrepancy between the actual amount
of water coming from Bulgaria and the much smaller amount of
water the Bulgarians claimed they would release. Regardless
of what was said, by early morning on November 20 the Meric,
flowing at a rate of 1,300 cubic meters per second, far
beyond the normal rate of flow of 600 cubic meters per
second, breached its banks for yet another year.


WIENER

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