TURKEY: For the past three days, several parts of Turkey have been engulfed in raging flames, not just destroying forest covers but also severely damaging people’s homes and hotels, and leaving animals in danger.
Of the 98 fires that have broken out in numerous provinces of Turkey since Wednesday, 88 are under control, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said.
Pakdemirli said in a statement that the combined force of 4,000 personnel, six planes, nine unmanned aerial vehicles, one unmanned helicopter, 45 helicopters, 55 heavy-duty vehicles, and 1,080 water tenders was needed to tame the flames.
Although people could be evacuated in time from some places, so far six people have lost their lives in the fires that also caused material and environmental damage in southern regions.
Two more fatalities were confirmed on Saturday. They belonged to the thousands of people who have been battling almost 100 separate blazes in resorts and villages on Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts – a major tourist region.
Local media said that Turkish Coastguard vessels – assisted by private boats and yachts – were deployed to bring holidaymakers to safety.
Three five-star hotels were reportedly evacuated, in the city of Bodrum.
Images shared by Bodrum’s mayor on Twitter show fires still burning into the early hours of Sunday morning.
With hashtags #PrayforTurkey and #TurkeyisBurning, netizens in and outside the country have flooded heartbreaking footage of the fires on social media to draw attention to the severity of the situation.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that the government would do everything to help hundreds of people affected by the disaster rebuild their lives.
Authorities on Thursday launched investigations into the fires, to establish whether some of the fires were started deliberately, amid reports that one suspected arsonist has been detained. Fahrettin Altun, a top aide to President Erdogan, said “those responsible will have to account for the attacks against nature and forests”.
The president has been heavily criticised for the shortage of firefighting aircraft in the country, however, he points out the Turkish Aeronautical Association’s outdated technology as the main reason for these issues.