Four dead in forest fires in southern Turkey

(Ankara) Forest fires have reached inhabited areas near several tourist attractions in southern Turkey, killing four people and evacuating dozens of villages, Turkish media reported on Thursday.

Posted on Jul 29, 2021 at 12:09 pm Updated at 5:56 pm

Individual fires that broke out in the forests of Manavgat, Alanya, Adana, Mersin, Bodrum and Marmaris near tourist attractions in southern Turkey quickly reached populated areas due to strong winds.

The fires killed four people, including a 25-year-old man, who traveled to a devastated location in Marmaris to provide relief, according to NTV television.

PHOTO KAAN SOYTURK, REUTERS

A forest fire near the city of Manavgat, east of the tourist city of Antalya, Turkey on July 29, 2021.

Dozens of houses, fields and stables in several villages were devastated by the flames.

“According to initial information, 150 cattle and a thousand sheep were killed, 600 hectares of arable land and 50 hectares of greenhouses were damaged,” said Turkish Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli on Thursday.

The first fire broke out in a forest in Manavgat in Antalya Province on Wednesday and spread to neighboring communities.

As the fire continued, the authorities evacuated dozens of villages. A hotel in the tourist town of Bodrum was also evacuated.

PHOTO PATRIZIA UNDER, AFFILIATED PRESS

Smoke is rising near a tourist hotel in the Icmeler region of the Aegean coastal city of Marmaris, Turkey, on Thursday, July 29, 2021 due to forest fires fueled by high winds.

Turkish media broadcast images of people running for their lives in panic on flame-lit streets.

Heavy clouds of smoke covered a dark orange sky over a beach resort in the city of Manavgat.

About 183 people, mainly affected by the fumes, and three with burns, were hospitalized.

Ten people stranded on board a boat on a lake surrounded by fire were rescued by rescue teams on Thursday.

Suspected criminal origin

More than 4,000 firefighters, assisted by helicopters and airplanes, try to get the flames under control.

The Russian embassy announced on Twitter on Thursday that three Russian water bombers were involved in the fire fighting operations.

The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu on Thursday evening that Greece, whose relations with Turkey are tense, is “ready to help in an emergency,” said the Turkish ministry.

For his part, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov expressed his solidarity with Turkey on Twitter and stressed that his country was ready to provide “support”.

The fires rage with temperatures of almost 40 degrees and gusts of 50 kilometers per hour.

In view of the simultaneous occurrence of several fires, the Turkish authorities say that a criminal origin cannot be ruled out.

“The outbreak of the Manavgat fire from four different points is reminiscent of arson. But we do not have any clear information on this issue at the moment, ”declared the Mayor of Antalya, Muhittin Bocek.

The public prosecutor of Marmaris has opened an investigation to determine the origin of the forest fire in this region, reported the state news agency Anadolu.

“Our fellow citizens who suffered from the fire will receive the necessary support,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday evening, who also promised a thorough investigation.

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