Forest Fires continue to set Turkey ablaze
If the climate crisis remains unchecked, the world could see even more devastating forest fires in the coming years. Turkey Wildfires
Turkey: The wildfires in Turkey continue to rage for the sixth straight day as the countries firefighters grapple to control the fires across the country’s southern provinces. The forest fires first started on Wednesday in the southern provinces of Mersin, Osmaniye, Adana, Antalya, and Kahramanmaraş. The blazes also broke out in the southwestern province of Muğla and central provinces of Kırıkkale and Kayseri, Daily Sabah reported. Of the 98 fires that have broken out since Wednesday, 88 are under control, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said.
Earlier Pakdemirli said that 4,000 personnel, six planes, nine unmanned aerial vehicles, one unmanned helicopter, 45 helicopters, 55 heavy-duty vehicles, and 1,080 water tenders are together making efforts to tame the flames. While in some places, people have been evacuated in time, till now six people have lost their lives in the fires. The fire has caused massive material and environmental damage in these regions.
On Saturday a new blaze erupted in the popular holiday resort of Bodrum on the Aegean coast and some residential areas and hotels were evacuated, according to broadcasters. More than 1,100 people were evacuated by sea on Sunday for the second straight day. “We helped the evacuation of 1,140 people by 12 boats,” Orhan Dinc, the president of the Bodrum Maritime Chamber said. “We did evacuation by boats yesterday as well, but I have never witnessed something similar before in this region. This is the first time,” he said.
Wildfires are common in southern Turkey in the summer but authorities say the latest blazes have covered a much bigger area. Fahrettin Koca, Minister of Health said 400 people affected by the fires in Manavgat were treated at hospitals and released, while 10 others remain hospitalised. In Marmaris,159 people were treated at the hospital and one person was still undergoing treatment for burns.
At least 77 houses have been damaged in the province of Antalya alone, and more than 2,000 farm animals have died, Pakdemirli, told journalists on Thursday.
The European Union informed that it had helped mobilise three fire-fighting planes on Sunday, one from Croatia and two from Spain, after Turkey activated a disaster response scheme to request help from other European countries. “The EU stands in full solidarity with Turkey at this very difficult time. I thank all the countries which have offered help,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic, adding they stand ready to provide further assistance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Manavgat on Saturday, and announced that all damaged houses would be rebuilt and losses compensated, adding that Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and Iran had sent firefighting planes and support teams to the affected areas.
Yemen, Palestine and Egypt have expressed solidarity with Turkey as they conveyed their condolences to the country over the widespread forest fires. Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak sent a message to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, expressing his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the fires, according to Yemen’s Foreign Ministry. He also wished a speedy recovery to those injured
A delegation of Palestinian scholars also issued a message of condolence.”We are deeply saddened by the wildfires that have erupted in many parts of fraternal country Turkey,” it said. “We extend our condolences to those who lost their lives and to their families. We heartily share the pain of the fraternal Turkish people.” The message also noted that Palestine is praying for all the firefighting teams and wishes them success. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University also published a statement expressing its sorrow.
In neighbouring Greece, firefighters were trying to contain a wildfire burning in the west of the country that destroyed houses and left 15 citizens hospitalised with breathing problems on Saturday.
On the Italian island of Sicily, firemen said on Saturday they were battling wildfires for a second straight day that reached the town of Catania, forcing people to leave their homes and seek safer areas. The local airport has also been temporarily shut down.
This, however, hasn’t been the only forest fire the world has seen in recent years. Across continents and climates, uncontrollable and destructive wildfires are becoming an expected part of annual calendars. In 2019- 2020, Australia saw one of its most devastating bush fires. During that period, nearly 19 million hectares burned, destroying over 3,000 homes and killing 33 people. Experts have shown concern that if the climate crisis remains unchecked, the world could see even more devastating forest fires in the coming years.