Turkey declares ‘disaster zones’ as the number of deaths from fires increases | Climate News

President Erdogan says the investigation has been opened into the causes of the fires in southern Turkey, as the death toll rises to six.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared himself part of southern Turkey scattered by forest fires as “disaster zones,” with the number of deaths from fires rising to six after two forest workers were killed.

Fires in Turkey since Wednesday have burned forests, invading villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.

The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said on Saturday that 88 out of 98 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat have been brought under control.

At least five people have died in Manavgat and one has died in Marmaris. Both cities are located on the Mediterranean coast and are tourist destinations.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 400 people affected by the fires in Manavgat have been discharged from hospitals and 10 have still received treatment. In Marmaris, 159 people were treated and one person was still undergoing treatment for burns.

Nine fires broke out in the southern province of Hatay where flames erupted towards populated areas but appear to have been brought under control.

Turkish media have said that guests of the hotel in part of the Aegean city of Bodrum have been ordered to evacuate and authorities have called for private boats and yachts to help evacuate by sea.

President Erdogan visited the affected areas on Saturday, inspecting them from a helicopter.

Erdogan described the regions affected by the forest fires as “disaster zones” in a statement on Twitter.

“We will continue to take all necessary measures to heal the wounds of our nation, compensate for its losses and improve its opportunities,” Erdogan said.

Speaking from the southern Turkish city of Manavgat, Erdogan said at a news conference after Saturday that while Ankara was not seeking to clean up the incident, it was also “considering the possibility of sabotage” and an investigation it was in the process of determining the causes of the fires.

Turkey has blamed some forest fires prior to the fire or on outlaw groups such as the Kurdistan Workers ’Party (PKK).

Erdogan said the government provides compensation for families who have lost their homes or agricultural land. He said taxes, social security and credit payments will be remitted to those affected and that small businesses will be offered credit with zero interest.

“We cannot do anything beyond desiring God’s mercy for the life we ​​have lost, but we can replace everything that has been burned,” he said.

Erdogan said the number of planes fighting the fires had been increased from six to 13, including planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and that thousands of Turkish personnel, and dozens of helicopters and drones. they were aiding firefighting efforts.

Speaking from Antalya, Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar said there are still active forest fires in at least 10 places in Turkey.

“Erdogan said enormous efforts are in place to control the fires. Yet it is still very difficult … the fires continue to erupt,” Serdar said.

Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey during the arid summer months.

More than 2,600 fires have broken out each year on average in the last decade, but that figure jumped to nearly 3,400 last year, said Husrev Ozkara, vice president of the Turkish Foresters Association.

A heat wave across Southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean.

Temperatures in Greece and neighboring countries in southeastern Europe are expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (more than 107 Fahrenheit) on Monday in several cities and towns and will calm only later next week.

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