Rains bring respite to Turkey's fire-ravaged forests

Turkish state news agency says 238 of 240 wildfires have been extinguished

A rainbow appears after rainfall in Ankara, Turkey.
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Heavy rainfall has helped firefighting efforts in Turkey's Mediterranean and Aegean provinces, after wildfires ravaged tens of thousands of hectares for almost two weeks.

Of the 240 fires that broke out since July 28, 238 have been put brought under control, state news agency Anadolu said on Monday.

Eight people were killed and thousands, including tourists, were forced to flee.

Although parts of neighbouring Greece continue to burn, rainfall brought some respite from the blazes in Turkey.

People rejoiced as the rain fell, kneeling down in prayer in the town of Manavgat, local Turkish media reported.

Turkey's Meteorological site Hava Forum described the rainfall over Antalya as “medicine".

On Monday, Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the only wildfires continuing to burn were in the Mugla districts of Milas and Koycegiz.

The fires in Milas are currently “dormant, not posing any significant threat,” Mr Pakdemirli said.

“We have been combating the fires with 16 aircraft, nine unmanned aerial vehicles, 57 helicopters, an unmanned helicopter, 850 water tenders and tankers, and 150 engineering vehicles, along with 5,250 forestry personnel.”

Mugla municipality said 55,000 hectares had been burnt — more than twice the area burnt across the whole of Turkey last year — and 36,000 people evacuated.

Strong winds, low humidity and temperatures above 40°C contributed to the spread of the fires.

Updated: August 09, 2021, 2:49 PM