ISTANBUL – A severe summer storm hit Istanbul with heavy rain and hail on Thursday, knocking down trees and a stone wall and flooding the Turkish city’s streets as it left at least three people injured.
Private NTV television said part of a stone wall surrounding a cemetery for the city’s Christian Armenian community was demolished in the storm, injuring two people. Television footage showed rescue crews and residents helping each other to remove the stones, looking for people who may have been trapped beneath the rubble.
The high winds also toppled a large crane that landed on oil barrels, causing an explosion and fire at a port, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. At least one person was injured in the fire, which was later brought under control. A small depot also caught fire after being hit by lightning.
Heavy rainfall disrupted the evening rush hour traffic, stranding vehicles in flooded streets. Delays were reported at Istanbul’s main airport and some planes were diverted to other airports.
NTV television showed people leaving a bus that was stranded in a flooded underpass and walking to safety in waist-high waters. Hail the size of golf balls also damaged some windows and car windshields.
Turkish authorities temporarily closed down the Eurasia Tunnel, which connects Istanbul’s Asian and European sides under the Bosporus strait, as a precaution.
It was the second time in 10 days that heavy rain had inundated the streets of Istanbul and caused havoc in the sprawling metropolis.