First modification: 08/01/2021 – 04:33
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared this July 31 “disaster areas” to the regions of the southwestern coast of the country, hit by forest fires since last week. The death toll rose to at least six, while authorities evacuated dozens of people in tourist areas.
While Turkish emergency teams continued this Saturday fighting massive forest fires for the fourth day in a row; the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared the areas hit by the flames as “disaster areas”.
“We have declared our regions affected by wildfires as ‘disaster areas affecting life in general.’ the president through his Twitter account and after inspecting the damage during a helicopter tour.
According to the minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, of the 101 deflagrations that broke out in numerous provinces since last Wednesday, at least 91 have been contained.
However, the emergency appears to be far from over. Firefighters fight in hellish conditions in the face of strong, dry winds and high temperatures fueled by hot air from Africa, which is set to last at least a week.
The flames particularly hit regions on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, among the most touristy in the country, where many visitors have been ordered to evacuate.
On Saturday, coast guard units removed dozens of tourists in boats, after they left some hotels in the Aegean resort, due to nearby fires. Local media images showed plumes of smoke and fire engulfing hills near the seashore.
In the midst of this panorama, the death toll rose to six after two forest workers died, as confirmed by the Turkish Ministry of Health.
The flames have devastated forests and some settlements, invaded towns and tourist destinations, and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
While forest fires are common in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey during the arid summer months, authorities say the forest fires have been set and promise to bring those allegedly responsible to justice.
Forest fires also impact Greece and Italy
As a heat wave hits southern Europe, fueled by hot air from Africa, forest fires have broken out in other Mediterranean nations.
In neighboring Greece, authorities warned citizens against unnecessary departures and transfers due to temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius in Athens. The ancient Acropolis, its most visited monument, was briefly forced to close.
Meanwhile, firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily are facing dozens of fires caused by high temperatures, prompting the governor of the region to request help from Rome.
Around 150 people trapped in two coastal areas of the city of Catania were evacuated by sea, on Friday, and were transferred to safe places in boats of the Coast Guard.
Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in southeastern Europe are expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius, so the alert will be extended for the next few days.
With AP and Reuters