A heatwave across southern Europe, assisted by hot air from Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean. Turkey declared ‘disaster areas’ affected by wildfires.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the affected areas on Saturday and declared the parts of southern Turkey that are affected by the forest fires as “disaster areas”.
The death toll from the fires rises to 6 after 2 forest workers were killed. At least 5 people have died in Manavgat and 1 died in Marmaris. Both towns are located on the Mediterranean and are tourist destinations.
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Since Wednesday fires across Turkey have burned down forests, and further encroaching on villages and tourist destinations. People were forced to evacuate.
On Saturday, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said that –
88 of 98 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat have been brought under control.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said –
400 people were affected by the fires in Manavgat and were discharged from hospitals and 10 people are still receiving treatment. In Marmaris, 159 people were treated and 1 person was still undergoing treatment for burns.
New fires erupted in Southern Hatay province of Turkey where flames jumped to populated areas. But they have been brought under control.
President Erdogan said –
We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation’s wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities,
He further said –
Ankara was not looking to politicise the incident, it was also considering the possibility of sabotage and an investigation was under way to determine the causes of the fires.
We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost but we can replace everything that was burned,
huge efforts are in place to bring the fires under control. Yet it is still very difficult … fires keep erupting,
According to Erdogan, the number of planes fighting the fires has been increased from 6 to 13. Planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran are in action carrying thousands of Turkish personnel to bring down the wildfires. Apart from the planes, dozens of helicopters and drones were assisting the firefighting efforts.
According to the latest reports, there are still active forest fires in at least 10 locations in Turkey.
On the other hand, Erdogan declared compensation for families who lost their homes or agricultural lands. He said taxes, social security, and credit payments would be postponed for those affected and small businesses would be offered credit with zero interest.
Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months.
Turkish Foresters Association vice-chairman, Husrev Ozkara said –
More than 2,600 fires have erupted each year on average in the last decade, but that figure jumped to almost 3,400 last year,
Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in Southeast Europe are expected to climb to 42° Celsius (more than 107.6° Fahrenheit) on Monday in many cities and towns and ease only later next week.