Four people have been killed and six injured – one seriously – in two major road traffic accidents in North Cyprus.
On Monday evening, a car driven at high speed by 34-year old Çiğdem Altınfincan on the main Lefkoşa-Güzelyurt road heading towards Güzelyurt, veered into the ditch in the central reservation near the Türkeli junction, causing her car to flip and crash into two oncoming cars.
The first car, driven by Ayşe Candemir, took the full impact of the crash, killing three of the four occupants instantly: teachers Candemir (aged 30), Figen Arkın (38) and İmge Kozok (24), pictured above. A fourth, Dilek Yılmaz (32), was badly injured and she remains in intensive care.
All three occupants in the second car that Altınfincan smashed into, driver Naci Kanatlı, Süheyla Kanatlı (40) and their daughter Fethiye Kanatlı (8) were also injured and taken to hospital. Altınfincan broke her shoulder in the fatal smash.
The Lefkoşa-Güzelyurt is notorious for fatal accidents. Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis dubbed it “Death Road”, reporting that in the past three years alone there have been 12 major accidents resulting in 15 deaths.
On Tuesday night, a second fatal crash occurred on the Karpaz-Famagusta road near İskele. A car driven by 21-year old Gökhan Gezen veered across the road straight into the path of an oncoming taxi driven by Haşmet Özmusa.
Both drivers were taken to Gazimağusa Statehospital where Gezen sadly lost his life, while Özmusa is being treated for non-life threatening injuries. Gezen is the son of renowned clarinet player Özkan Gezen and house band leader at Kosem Taverna in North London.
Initial reports released to media by the police suggest the accident happened at 00.15 and was caused as a result of Gezen speeding and losing control of his vehicle. According to state news agency TAK, the two accidents bring the TRNC 2014 road fatalities toll, not yet a month old, to five.
North Cyprus has the worst record in Europe for fatal car crashes
North Cyprus has the worst record in Europe for fatal car crashes. Statistics issued by the TRNC’s Road Traffic Accident Prevention Association (RTAPA) stated there are 16.33 road traffic deaths per 100,000 of population – three times higher than the EU average of 5.5.
A total of 442 people have been killed in road traffic accidents in the past 10 years. The numbers steadily dropped, with just 24 fatalities in 2012. However they doubled last year, with 49 deaths on the roads – the worst since 2004 when 76 were killed.
Of the 49 killed last year: 20 were car drivers, 12 passengers, eight pedestrians, seven motorcyclists and two cyclists. Half of all accidents in the TRNC are said to be as a result of drivers speeding.
Main photo: innocent victims, teachers Ayşe Candemir, Figen Arkın and İmge Kozok killed in Monday night’s car smash