Expert’s report says picnickers responsible for Siirt dam deaths

New expert reports on an accident in which six people died near a dam in the southeastern province of Siirt say those responsible for the deaths are not the operators and owners of the dam but the six picnickers who died in the incident.
Six people were killed when the gates of Siirtand’s Alkumru Dam on the Botan River were opened, allegedly without warning, causing the Botan Valley to be instantly flooded on Aug. 24, 2014.
A prior expert report, prepared in 2013, showed then that necessary safety measures for the Alkumru Dam were not implemented following a deadly accident in 2011, in which three people, all from the same family, drowned.
According to the expert report, dated Jan. 1, 2013 and prepared by civil engineers Adil Damar and Yahya Zararsiz and mechanical engineer Erdal andcetiner, officials were specifically warned not to open the damand’s gates suddenly, to increase the number of warning signs, to warn people with announcements from helicopters while opening the gates, to enhance the warning system of sirens and alarms in the area and to ban picnicking in the valley.
After the Siirt Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office requested on April 24, 2015 that another expert report to be prepared, a commission composed of three experts prepared the report on the incident and sent it to Siirt on Aug. 14.
The second report found the six picnickers who died guilty on the grounds that they wanted to have a picnic in the Botan Valley. and”We have concluded that the deceased and the injured were responsible for the incident,and” the report read.
The tragedy sparked accusations of negligence by the company which operates the dam, the construction conglomerate Limak, in August 2014.
Locals claimed that sirens warning that the floodgates were opening were not loud enough to be heard by all the people who were in the vicinity, and there were no amplifiers to spread the sound of the alarm along the 30-kilometer-long Botan Valley. They accused the company operating the dam of being responsible for the deaths.
Limak denied any responsibility, saying the people were in a restricted zone. The company claimed the gates did not malfunction and insisted that sirens and alarms were activated to warn that the gates were opening.
Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroilu also defended the company, saying flashing lights and sirens were activated to warn people in the area about the opening of the gates. He claimed some picnickers refused to leave after the warnings, and”probably because they thought they would be fine.and”
Two representatives of Limak, Sezai Bacaksiz and Kasim Eren, were sentenced to five years in prison after the first incident in 2011.

SOURCE: TODAY”S ZAMAN

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