Three people were killed on Thursday and more than 100 injured as thousands of firefighters battled massive fires spreading through Mediterranean seaside areas on Turkey’s southern coast.
Authorities have also opened an investigation into suspicions that the fires that broke out on Wednesday in four locations east of the Antalya tourist hotspot were the result of arson.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Bureau said three people were killed – including an 82-year-old man who lived alone – and 122 injured by the fires.
“The treatment of 58 of our citizens continues,” he said, quoted by the state news agency Anadolu.
The fires first broke out in a sparsely populated area about 75 kilometers (45 miles) east of Antalya – a seaside resort especially popular with Russian tourists and other tourists from Eastern Europe.
But they were getting closer on Thursday to sandy beaches dotted with hotels and resorts.
Images broadcast on social media and on Turkish television showed residents jumping out of their cars and running for their lives on smoky streets lit by orange flames.
Thick clouds of smoke turned the sky dark orange above a beachfront resort in the town of Manavgat.
Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a hotel was also being evacuated near the tourist town of Bodrum, some 300 kilometers west of Antalya, as new fires broke out on the south coast.
Pakdemirli said 150 cows and thousands of sheep and goats perished in the flames.
– Full mobilization –
The fires were raging with temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and wind gusts of 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour.
But Antalya mayor Muhittin Bocek said he suspected foul play because the fires started in four places at once.
“It suggests arson, but we don’t have clear information about it at this point,” Bocek said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an investigation has already been opened.
The Russian embassy said Moscow sent three giant firefighting planes to dump fire retardants on the burning forests to contain the flames.
# photo1 More than 4,000 Turkish firefighters have been dispatched to the area to help contain the damage and search for those in need.
They rescued 10 people stranded on a boat in a lake surrounded by a burning forest on Thursday.
“All the means of the State have been mobilized”, declared the Minister of the Environment Murat Kurum. “All our teams are in the field.
© 2021 AFP