MANAVGAT, Turkey, July 30 (Reuters) – The toll of forest fires on Turkey’s southern coast has risen to four and firefighters battled the blazes for a third day on Friday after dozens of villages and some were evacuated on Friday. hotels.
More than 70 forest fires broke out this week in Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coast provinces as well as in interior regions, President Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that 14 were still burning.
Planes from Russia and Ukraine helped fight the flames, and another from Azerbaijan joined them. “From noon, with the arrival of the planes, we are turning in a positive direction,” Erdogan told reporters after the Friday prayers.
Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the fires were raging in six provinces and authorities had promised to bring to justice anyone responsible for their outbreak.
Villages and some hotels were evacuated to tourist areas and TV footage showed people fleeing across fields as fires broke out in their homes.
Pakdemirli said fires were still blazing in the Mediterranean resort area of Antalya and the Aegean resort province of Mugla.
“We were hoping to contain some of the fires this morning, but even though we cautiously say they are improving, we still can’t say they are under control,” he said.
Forest fires have broken out elsewhere in the region, with more than 40 in Greece in the past 24 hours, fueled by winds and soaring temperatures, authorities said. On Tuesday, a fire ravaged a pine forest north of Athens, damaging more than a dozen homes before it was brought under control.
Fires have also burned large swathes of pine forests in mountainous north Lebanon this week, killing at least one firefighter and forcing some residents to flee.
In Turkey, firefighters on the ground and in helicopters were fighting a blaze that killed three people in Manavgat, 75 km (45 miles) east of Antalya. Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said 27 neighborhoods had been evacuated there.
One person was found dead Thursday in the Marmaris area of Mugla, 290 km west of Manavgat. The blaze continued in Marmaris but residential areas were not in danger, Pakdemirli said.
Erdogan said at least five planes, 45 helicopters, drones and 1,080 firefighting vehicles were involved in firefighting efforts at 1,140 sites.
Istanbul’s governor’s office banned entry into forest areas until the end of August as a precaution against fires.
Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen, Daren Butler, Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, Karolina Tagaris in Athens, Laila Bassam in Beirut; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Giles Elgood
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