Turkey strives to put out massive wildfires for six days in a row: Eight killed

Canan Sarıtepe
02 August 2021, 12:08
Фото: Associated Press
Canan Sarıtepe
02 August 2021, 12:08

Turkey’s struggle against wildfires continues unrelieved on the sixth day in 35 provinces. Authorities announced late Sunday that 122 out of 129 forest fires were under control. Nevertheless, fires devastating popular tourist resorts Manavgat and Marmaris are still raging, with the death toll rising to eight.

Turkish agriculture and forestry minister Bekir Pakdemirli announced on Sunday that the number of people who have lost their lives has risen to eight, adding that some 4,800 personnel are active in the region.

A total of 16 aircraft, nine drones, 45 helicopters, six management helicopters, one unmanned helicopter, 708 water tankers and water sprinklers and 120 construction machines have been used to put out the wildfires, the minister said.

Earlier, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that 497 of the 507 people affected by the fire in Manavgat district of Antalya have been discharged from hospitals.

Similarly, he added, 186 of the 203 people struck by wildfires in Mugla's Marmaris and Bodrum districts have also been treated.

Firefighters on the ground tirelessly fight the flames with the aerial assistance of water bomber planes and helicopters, but the extinguishing efforts from air pause at night. On Monday morning, planes and helicopters resumed their operations in Marmaris and Köyceğiz, two towns in the southwestern Muğla province. 

Strong winds fanned the flames in the province, and forest fires rapidly advanced in Marmaris’ seven neighborhoods. In Köyceğiz, a rural neighborhood is under threat of a massive forest fire.

In Manavgat, the situation is grave as new fires rage on in the area. On Sunday evening, a new fire broke out in the Gündoğdu neighborhood, which was already fighting the fires that broke out last week. Locals joined extinguishing efforts. 

In some areas, people started patrolling the neighborhoods near forests upon hearing rumors of arson. Multiple investigations are underway over the causes of fires in Manavgat and other towns and provinces, while authorities voiced suspicion that points to the terrorist group PKK’s involvement.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said law enforcement agencies were investigating the causes of the fires, and they had special teams of investigators in place. "We received about 300 tip-offs about the causes of the fires. We have several people in detention, but ultimately the judiciary will decide whether they are guilty (of starting fires). We have information about sabotage attempts, about negligence which might have caused the fires," he said.

The Minister added that the terrorist group PKK was working to burn forests, businesses and vehicles of civilians and since January and that they thwarted more than 300 such attempts.