Turkey, Environment

Massive forest fire in southern Turkey kills 3

Wildfires erupted in 4 different areas in Antalya's Manavgat district on Wednesday, spread over large area

Ayse Yildiz, Hatice Ozdemir Tosun, and Suleyman Elcin   | 29.07.2021
Massive forest fire in southern Turkey kills 3

ANTALYA, Turkey

A massive forest fire in Turkey’s Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya has killed three people, officials said Thursday.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said in a statement that three people lost their lives and 138 others were affected by the wildfires in the Manavgat district, including one seriously wounded.

The treatment of 58 people continues at hospitals, it added.

Many houses, workplaces, barns, farmland, greenhouses, and vehicles were damaged due to the blaze, it said, adding that a dozen teams are currently doing damage assessment.

The Turkish Red Crescent sent a field kitchen, five catering vehicles, and catering units with a capacity for over 20,000 people.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the state is mobilizing all means to control and put out the fires.

Erdogan, who constantly talks on the telephone with ministers on the spot and receives information about developments regarding the control of fires, wished Allah's mercy on those who were killed.

“The fire in Manavgat, Antalya is under control, but there’s an ongoing fire in Akseki (district) which erupted last night,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli told reporters in Antalya.


Public urged to heed warnings

Pakdemirli said an 82-year-old man, who was alone at home, died while evacuation efforts were underway in the village of Kepezbeleni, Akseki. He urged the public to heed official warnings.

"Our struggle to control the fires continues. Of course, we'll get it under control. However, this may take some time, and the government is here with all its institutions," he said.

Pakdemirli also said that 202 houses had been evacuated in the southern province of Mersin due to a forest fire in the Aydincik district that has been burning since Wednesday, adding that the situation concerning the fire was "progressing in a positive direction" due to the counter actions taken.

Mustafa Yigit, a local official in Manavgat, told Anadolu Agency that 10 people were rescued at the Oymapinar Dam.

“They were affected by the smoke and taken to the hospital,” he said, adding their lives were not in danger.

Pakdemirli said that efforts to bring 10 fires under control continued with 4,000 personnel, three planes, 38 helicopters, and 472 water tenders.

"According to our initial damage assessment, 150 cattle, 1,000 ovine (livestock), 6,000 decares of agricultural land (1,480 acres) and 500 decares (124 acres) of banana greenhouses were damaged," Pakdemirli said.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry is also using an unmanned helicopter to fight the Manavgat blaze. The copter, equipped with high-resolution thermal cameras and sensors, can stay in the air for up to eight hours.

"A multi-faceted investigation and research on the cause of the fires is being conducted by the relevant law enforcement and judicial authorities," Pakdemirli said.


Investigation continues

Pakdemirli and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu examined the area of the fire, which started at four different spots in Manavgat before spreading.

“Our hope is that the fires both in Manavgat and in various parts of Turkey are brought under control and extinguished,” Cavusoglu said.

He also said that an investigation into the cause of the fires was being carried out upon the instruction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We've also allocated a dormitory with a capacity of 720 people in Manavgat. Last night, 90 people stayed in this dormitory. Most people stay with relatives and friends," Cavusoglu said.

He noted that the Turkish Red Crescent was already serving hot meals at six points and said that a communications network had been set up with the local officials to meet urgent needs, such as clothing.

"All the means of the state have been mobilized for our Antalya and Manavgat. All our teams are on the field," said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum.

"We'll also start the construction process of permanent residences in order to quickly heal the wounds of our citizens," he said.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar and Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara


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