Three dead as bush fires in south Turkey spread

Evacuations under way as fires rage on

Three people were found dead as a huge bush fire raged for a second day in southern Turkey on Thursday, the country's Afad disaster agency and agriculture minister said. Efforts to rescue others and extinguish the blaze are continuing.

More than 100 people had to be rescued, required medical treatment or suffered damage to property as a result of the fire.

Hot weather and strong winds have caused fires to spread around the town of Manavgat, 75 kilometres east of the resort city of Antalya, and in nearby villages.

Several settlement areas were evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of people were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation, as the fire spread near a tourist resort in the south of Turkey.

Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Thursday that an 82-year-old man had been found dead during the evacuation of the district of Kepezbeleni, 16km north-east of Manavgat. A group of 10 people were rescued after being stranded on a boat at the nearby Oymapinar dam.

Mr Pakdemirli later said two other bodies were found in the Degirmenli district of Antalya, about 20km east of Manavgat, and that efforts to contain the fire were continuing.

Afad said 122 people had been affected by the fires and that 58 were receiving treatment.

“Houses in areas that could be affected by the fire have been evacuated. Several homes, offices, farms, agricultural fields, greenhouses, and vehicles have been damaged by fire,” Afad said.

Authorities evacuated 18 villages and districts in Antalya while 16 more villages were evacuated in the neighbouring provinces of Adana and Mersin, where efforts to extinguish separate fires were under way, Mr Pakdemirli said.

It said a firefighting plane, a drone, 19 helicopters, about 250 vehicles and 960 personnel were part of efforts to control the blazes, while Turkey's Red Crescent sent staff and food kits to the region.

Mr Pakdemirli confirmed that fires had started in four locations, but said it was premature to say what had caused them.

“All necessary support will be given to our citizens who have suffered from the fire,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Mr Erdogan said an investigation had been launched into the cause of the fires.

“It's an unbelievably bad sight,” the mayor of Manavgat, Sukru Sozen, told CNN Turk.

Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast, a popular destination for local and foreign tourists, is known for its scorching summer heat, which often causes bush fires. Officials said the latest fires are the biggest to date.

Turkey has battled a series of disasters caused by extreme weather this summer, including flash floods last week that killed six people in the Black Sea region.

Updated: July 29th 2021, 4:39 PM
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