Turkey is experiencing devastating wildfires which are making their way through villages and forests
By Maryam Razzaq
The southern coastline of Turkey is burning as fires continue to make their way through the Antalya Manavgat district. Thick smoke can be visibly seen in the sky as Turkish firefighters and authorities attempt to bring the fires under control. As the visibility slowly clears, burnt remains of villages and forests can be seen from a distance.
Over the past seven days, 132 devastating fires have ravaged their way through mainly southern parts of Turkey. According to the European Forest Fire Information System, the fires have killed eight civilians and burned more 118,789 hectares of land. As the Turkish firefighters continue to exhaust all efforts to control the fires, strong winds and scorching temperatures are proving to be challenging.
Opposition to the government have been pointing fingers at the current Erdogan administration for failing to procure firefighting planes and instead, allocated more funds to constructions projects that harm the environment.
“If a president is incapable of devising a master plan for forest fire prevention, that president cannot prevent forest fires. If a president is not aware that forest fires will increase with global warming, that president cannot prevent forest fires. We need to start preparing our country for new climate crises immediately. Our country is in the midst of a climate and water crisis,” said Kilicdaroglu.
The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, Bekir Pakdemirli has shared the latest forest fire situation through his official Twitter account. 167 fires in 33 Turkey provinces have been brought under control while firefighters continue to fight against 16 different fires in 7 provinces.
Helicopters, fire trucks and police water cannons worked together to extinguish the fires while boats stand ready to evacuate those in need of help. Around one hundred Russian tourists were brought to safety from the eastern region of Bodrum and have been relocated to hotels safe from the danger.
Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan has visited the affected regions of the fires this past Saturday to reassure the victims of his governments unwavering support. Allies of the Turkish government such as Russia, Iran, and Ukraine have contributed 16 water bombers to combat the blazes sweeping the nation.
Many in Turkey are speculating that the fires are a consequence of the months of extremely high temperatures and severe drought. Turkey’s capital Antalya, a tourist hotspot which usually averages around mid-30s Celsius during the summer months has experienced more than 40C this past week. Further to this, on July 20, Turkey recorded their highest ever temperature of 49.1C in their southeast region.
Erdogan has shared that one fire on the coastal town of Marmaris was caused by children, and Turkish authorities continue to investigate the causes of the other fires sweeping across the nation. Arson has not been ruled out.