Istanbul: Eight people have been confirmed dead after more than 100 fires broke out on the southern coast of Turkey.
In small boats, residents and tourists fled to the Turkish holiday beach destinations of Antalya and Mugla. If a larger evacuation was required, the Coast Guard and two Navy ships were stationed off the coast.
Warm weather and dry winds in southern Europe have contributed to wildfires in the Mediterranean, including Sicily, Italy, and western Greece and the Aegean region.
But Turkey has been hit particularly hard. Turkish officials say most of the fire has been brought under control. But with some resorts in danger, and with temperatures forecast to reach new records in the coming days, the battle is not over.
Two firefighters died on Sunday, CNN reported, citing the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, raising the death toll to eight.
According to Turkey’s health minister, at least 27 people affected by the fire were undergoing treatment on Sunday, while hundreds of others were released.
Since Wednesday, forest fires broke out in 32 provinces, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. He said that 117 forest fires have been brought under control.
The cause of the fire is a source of speculation, with some officials saying they are investigating allegations of arson. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the fire was started by children, the AP reported.
One of the most affected areas is the Bodrum resort of Turkey. Bodrum resident Melis Beider spoke to the VOA on Sunday.
“I’m feeling scared; we’re stressed because it’s so hot here. What started in the muscular on Airport Road in Bodrum is still spreading; others have been put up. As the wind picks up It’s becoming dangerous again,” said Bieder.
The fire is dealing a blow to Turkey’s vital tourism industry, still trying to recover from the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many farmers have also been devastated by the fire, in which cattle have died.
On Saturday, Erdogan, in a 30-vehicle convoy, visited some of the most affected resorts. He declared the area a disaster zone, promising compensation for those who suffered the loss. He gave a stern warning to any criminal.
“If you will tear our hearts, I swear, we will shatter your hearts; If we find such a connection – there are already some indications – we will do whatever we can,” Erdogan said.
The government is facing mounting criticism that the country’s firefighting fleet is out of action, instead relying on three hired Russian planes.
Erdogan said more planes had arrived and more planes were on the way from neighboring Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan. According to the AP, the European Commission has sent one Canadian firefighting aircraft from Croatia and two from Spain to Turkey.
Some information for this report has been obtained from The Associated Press.