Health National

Over 80 people, including children, drowned in irrigation canals in 1.5 months

Over 80 people, including children, drowned in irrigation canals in 1.5 months


Divers carrying out search efforts for the two missing children in the canal in Urfa in 2020. (Photo: AA)

A total of 82 individuals, including children, drowned in irrigation canals, rivers, lakes and dam reservoirs between June 1 and July 15, according to news compiled by the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA).

These fatalities occurred either as individuals were seeking respite from the heat by swimming or due to accidents that caused them to fall into water channels.

Throughout June, 47 people drowned, and during the first half of July, 35 more lives were lost to drowning incidents. The highest number of drowning cases, involving 11 individuals, was reported on June 29.

Last year during the same period, a total of 91 people had tragically drowned in similar incidents

Negligence and child fatalities

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), security forces, and the State Hydraulic Works (DSI) are working to raise awareness among citizens residing in areas where water sources are present.

Despite that, the issue of child fatalities and negligence has also come to the forefront. Ali Bozan, the Green Left (Yeşil Sol) Party MP representing Mersin, expressed concern after three children lost their lives in irrigation canals in a week in the Tarsus district.

In a press release, Bozan asserted that the authorities had neglected their responsibilities and failed to implement necessary safety measures in these areas.

Meeting neighborhood heads in Tarsus, Bozan emphasized the need for immediate action, saying, “Local administrations should construct safe and affordable pools to prevent children from entering irrigation canals to cool off during hot weather.”

No railings or warning signs

Muhittin Borlukan, the mukhtar of Mithatpaşa neighborhood, echoed these concerns, stating, “Tarsus lacks basic measures in its canals. The DSİ has neglected their responsibilities. We have no warning signs or railings along the canals. The canals are not properly maintained or cleaned.”

Borlukan urged local authorities to take action and build adequate facilities for children, saying, “If local administrations prioritize building pools and creating safe spaces, children will not resort to dangerous canals for relief from the heat. Tarsus deserves better attention and services from government officials.”

Incidents involving children falling into irrigation canals are reported each year from May onwards. The Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG), a group monitoring work-related deaths, notes that over half of the population in settlements accommodating seasonal agricultural workers consists of children, including young ones who are required to accompany their families.

Some of the incident where children drowned in water sources in July:

    • On July 15, in Samsun’s Atakum district, two out of four children who entered the sea drowned, one was rescued, and one went missing.
    • On July 9, a 13-year-old girl drowned in Salda Lake in Burdur’s Yeşilova district.
    • On July 8, an Iranian child lost his life while trying to move his animals across Murat River in Diyadin, Ağrı.
    • On July 2, in Diyarbakır’s Eğil district, a youth swept away by the current in Dicle Dam Reservoir and their sibling who attempted to rescue them both drowned. (VK)


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