Turkey battles wildfires for 3rd day in a row 

  31 July 2021    Read: 454
Turkey battles wildfires for 3rd day in a row 

Turkish emergency forces are battling massive forest fires in the country for the third consecutive day.

Ten fires are still active, including three in the popular holiday region of Antalya, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said on Twitter on Saturday.

Of the 98 fires that have broken out in numerous provinces since Wednesday, 88 are under control.

The fires were particularly serious on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, where strong winds hampered the fire-fighting efforts. Many regions and hotels were evacuated and tourists were brought to safety by boats.

The fires have claimed six lives so far.

The cause is still unclear. Turkish authorities are investigating all possibilities and do not rule out arson.

On the Turkish Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, sweltering heat of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) is expected for the next few days.

A neighborhood in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya was evacuated after flames, fanned by wind, spread to residential areas.

Some 33 people were given shelter in a high school dormitory.

Earlier Pakdemirli said that joining the efforts to tame the flames are 4,000 personnel, six planes, nine unmanned aerial vehicles, one unmanned helicopter, 45 helicopters, 55 heavy-duty vehicles and 1,080 water tenders, a type of vehicle that specializes in the transport of water from a water source to a fire scene.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum, and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu joined Pakdemirli for a press conference to share recent developments on the forest fires.

The forest fires first erupted on Wednesday in the southern provinces of Mersin, Osmaniye, Adana, Antalya, and Kahramanmaraş. Blazes also broke out in the southwestern province of Muğla and central provinces of Kırıkkale and Kayseri.

Speaking on the fires in Muğla, Pakdemirli said there had been "minor damage" in the resort town of Marmaris.

"It does not threaten the settlements, there is a fire moving towards the sea," he said.

The minister also emphasized that official investigations into the causes of the fires continue.

"Judicial and law enforcement authorities continue their investigation into the causes of the fires. A statement will be made once important findings are uncovered," he said.

Citing widespread speculation on social media, Pakdemirli also urged the public against relying on uncorroborated information from nonofficial sources.

As a measure to ease the financial burden of victims of the flames, loan repayments for those injured will be postponed, he stated.

To help heal the environment after the blazes are doused, new trees will be planted to replace those that are charred. That work is expected to start at the end of October and beginning of November, Pakdemirli added.

Damage assessment work
Efforts to extinguish the flames continue in the region along with damage assessments, Çavuşoğlu told reporters.

"As of tomorrow, we will start partial payments to our citizens whose damage has been determined," said the foreign minister.

"Three of our citizens died in Antalya and one in Mugla, we wish upon them Allah's mercy," Çavuşoğlu added.

He underlined that the transfer of a total of 23.5 million Turkish liras (around $2.8 million) had begun from various institutions and ministries for emergency needs amid the fires in Manavgat, Antalya.

Çavuşoğlu highlighted that the teams found 42 neighborhoods had been affected by the flames. He added that 27 neighborhoods had been evacuated and that 15 were also partially affected by the Manavgat fires.

He also said that a coordination center was established within the provincial governor's office for the needs of people in all these neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the Antalya Governorship said all citizens but the authorities are banned from entering all forested lands in the city between July 30 and August 31. 

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