More than 70 wildfires have broken out, for the past three days, in around six provinces in Turkey. The fires have taken place on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts as well as rural inland areas. As per President Tayyip Erdogan, 14 were still burning.
The fires according to authorities may have been sparked as a result of “arson or human negligence.” The blazes are actually a part of a larger pattern of wildfires that took place across the Mediterranean in the past few months. Areas in Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus also battled wildfires. According to Cagatay Tavsanoglu who is a biology professor studying fire ecology at Hacettepe University in Ankara, the fires are an annual occurrence, however, the severity of the blazes should serve as a warning. It is important to note other extreme weather occurrences around the world as well, such as deadly floods in Europe and China and raging fires in the United States, Canada, and Siberia. Scientists believe such extremes are a result of changes in climate owing to global warming.
“Many fires could not be put out, and with the influence of dry winds, burning happened too fast It is just the first indication of what climate change would do to the Mediterranean region in the future.” – stated Tavsanoglu.
The death toll on the southern coast has come up to four. Dozens of Villages were evacuated in the past three days. Hotels were also evacuated and television footage showed people running across fields, to escape the fires. Planes sent from Russia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine were deployed to subdue the fire. “As of midday, with the arrival of the planes, we are turning in a positive direction,” Erdogan told reporters on Friday.
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Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said fires were still blazing in the Mediterranean resort region of Antalya and the Aegean resort province of Mugla. “We were hoping to contain some of the fires as of this morning but while we say cautiously that they are improving, we still cannot say they are under control,” he said. According to authorities, the fires have been fanned by high temperatures and strong winds. On Tuesday, a blaze tore through a pine forest north of Athens. The fire damaged more than a dozen homes before it was subdued.
Fires also burned in the mountainous regions, north of Lebanon. One of the firefighters was killed and many of the residents had to flee.
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Three people in Manavgat were killed in a blaze. Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said 27 neighbourhoods were evacuated there. One person was killed on Thursday in Mugla’s Marmaris area West of Manavgat. Erdogan stated that 5 planes, 45 helicopters, and 1,080 firefighting vehicles were deployed in efforts to subdue fires in 1,140 sites. Istanbul governor’s office banned entry to forest areas until the end of August.