Turkey has seen more than 120 blazes break out in 32 provinces – many of them in popular tourist hotspots – in the last week. At least eight people have died, and thousands of others forced to evacuate, as firefighters struggle to contain the wildfires whose spread has been exacerbated by parched weather conditions. Drone videos from various parts of Turkey capture the scale of the devastation…
The fires that broke out last Wednesday are continuing to wreak havoc for the sixth day straight today. Even though 119 fires had been brought under control as of late Sunday, crews are still battling seven fires that have erupted in the popular beach provinces of Antalya and Mugla as well as in Tunceli, southeast Turkey.
Water-carrying planes from Russia, Ukraine, Iran, and Azerbaijan are helping the firefighters. Meanwhile, the European Union has also announced that it will be sending in planes from Croatia and Spain to bolster the containment efforts. Turkey is not a member of the EU.
The drone footage below comes from Manavgat where fires have claimed the lives of five people:
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared the regions affected by the forest fires as “disaster areas.” He said in a statement on Twitter:
We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost but we can replace everything that was burned. We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation’s wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities. It is our duty to find those who burned our forests and burn their lungs.
Cause of Turkey wildfires under investigation
Turkish authorities are investigating whether the fires may have been the result of arson by outlawed Kurdish militants. At the same time, one of the fires is believed to have been started by children. However, climate change has also played its part in making a bad situation worse.
In an interview with CNN, Hikmet Ozturk, a forestry expert with the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, an NGO that works to protect forests, asserts that while 95% of fires in Turkey are caused by people, the spread of the fires is worsened by climate change. Says Ozturk:
The area of the fires is within the Mediterranean Basin which is one of the most susceptible to climate change risks. Typical weather conditions in the summer for the area are hot and dry, which means the risk of fires is already high, and climate change raises that risk.
It’s worth noting that these wildfires come only days after western Europe and China were severely flooded by unprecedented rains. Scientists have been warning for decades that climate change will make extreme weather events like these more likely.
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