Revenge of the Rivers

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Summer of floods: Over the last few months, a remarkable convergence of heavy rains has plagued the Earth from Istanbul to the Ivory Coast, causing treacherous floods and leaving many people without homes. Storms, as seen here in West Africa, began in June and led to massive flooding across the region. According to the United Nations, more than 159 people in West Africa have been killed by flooding and resulting mudslides, with those living in slums particularly at risk. An estimated 600,000 people across the region had homes damaged, with many left homeless. Above, people walk through a flooded courtyard in the Adjouffou shanty area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on June 24.

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Two if by sea: A child pushes a sibling across the flooded courtyard of their house in Abidjan on June 24. At least 21 people died in Abidjan during flooding and mudslides in June, and a recent U.N. report on flooding across West Africa estimated that 2,000 people in the Ivory Coast were affected. Other countries in the region with floods caused by record precipitation include Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

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Water landing: Burkina Faso has been one of the West African countries hit hardest by flooding. More than 10 inches of rain in a 12-hour period fell on Sept. 1, causing eight deaths and leaving 150,000 people homeless. The U.N. World Food Program is distributing food to 50,000 people affected by floods in Burkina Faso and 41,000 in Niger. Above, people try to navigate the flooded streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Sept. 1.

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Waterlogged: Sudan has been dealing with floods around its capital, Khartoum, after heavy rains on Aug. 26 that the Sudan Tribune reported as breaking the 1988 record for rainfall. Many schools were closed, and an official from the Sudanese Red Crescent told Agence France-Presse that 21,000 families "have had their homes totally or partly destroyed" while the government put the figure at 4,000. Above, a Sudanese woman walks carefully on a flooded road on Aug. 29, while in the background a driver tries to urge his donkey cart through the water.

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Flash flood: On Sept. 6, South Korea was shocked by a huge flood wave on the Imjin River that killed six South Koreans near the border with North Korea. The flood, in which water levels doubled from 7.5 to 15 feet, was not a natural disaster, but rather caused by the sudden release of a water reservoir by a North Korean dam on the other side of the border. Those killed were South Koreans camping near the river. South Korean officials have accused North Korea of deliberately causing the flood, with even the unification minister demanding an apology from Pyongyang. North Korea has admitted releasing the water and said it will provide notice in the future, but had not issued an apology as of Sept. 11. However, a Sept. 11 concession on wages in a joint venture with South Korea is thought to be a possible "peace overture" after the flood. Above, rescue workers on Sept. 6 search for missing people near vehicles hit by the flood.

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Revenge of the river: As of Sept. 9, at least 31 people had been killed in Turkey as a result of the heaviest rainfall the country has seen in more than 80 years. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the floods the "disaster of the century." Erdogan blamed the damage from the torrential rains on ill-planned developments around Istanbul. "As our ancestors used to say, 'The river's revenge will be strong,'" Erdogan said. "We should remember what our ancestors say." Above, an aerial shot shows flooded homes in Istanbul on Sept. 9.

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One step at a time: In Istanbul, a man and woman make their way across a water-filled road on Sept. 9, hopping along floating debris while people wait to follow. Residents have sought safety on bridges and high land. The rains have stopped for now, but a new storm front was expected to move in this weekend, according to Turkish meteorologists.

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Rescue flag: A Turkish woman waves to rescuers from the balcony of her home after being stranded by flooding on Sept. 8. The death toll from flooding in Turkey has climbed and is expected to grow higher as a number of people are still reported missing.

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Heavy metal: In Istanbul, 13 truck drivers were reported killed as water washed over the vehicle park where they were sleeping. The water level rose almost 15 feet in just 10 minutes. Above, the wreckage of vehicles, including many heavy trucks, is seen during rescue operations on Sept. 9.

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Still submerged: Although floodwaters rose quickly in Istanbul -- particularly in lower lying areas, as they did here on Sept. 9 -- a few sections, like the tourist destination Sultanahmet, escaped serious damage. In Istanbul, as in most places struck by floods over the past few months, poor drainage systems and inadequate emergency planning are being blamed for exacerbating the effects of high rainfall, turning natural disasters into man-made disasters.

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