Wildfires in southern Turkey leave three dead

Wildfires in southern Turkey leave three dead
Authorities evacuated homes in southern Turkey as a wildfire fanned by strong winds raged through a forest area near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat (Suat Metin/IHA via AP)

Strong winds have fanned two separate forest fires in southern Turkey, killing at least three people and sending more than 50 others to hospital as homes burned down, officials said.

A wildfire that broke out on Wednesday near the Mediterranean coastal resort town of Manavgat, in Antalya province, had largely been contained, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said.

But another fire that started early on Thursday and swept through the district of Akseki, some 30 miles north, kept firefighters engaged.

Three people were killed in the fires, and authorities evacuated close to 20 neighbourhoods or villages.

An aerial photo shows destroyed houses as a wildfire fanned by strong winds raged through a forest area near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat (Suat Metin/IHA via AP)

Meanwhile, another forest fire broke out near the town of Armutalan, close to the resort of Marmaris, 200 miles west of Antalya, threatening a coastal residential area that includes hotels.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said some people were being evacuated from the area as a precaution.

Mr Pakdemirli said a firefighting plane and five helicopters were involved in efforts to bring the blaze under control.

The dead in the fires in Antalya included an 82-year-old man in Akseki’s Kepezbeleni neighbourhood, where some 80% of the houses were incinerated, the district’s governor, Volkan Hulur, told the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The Turkish government’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said that along with the three victims, at least 112 people were affected by the fires, including 58 who were admitted to hospital, mostly for smoke inhalation.

Authorities also rescued 10 people who were stranded at a restaurant by a dam near Akseki.

AFAD said several homes, businesses, crops and vehicles were damaged in Manavgat but did not elaborate.

“At the moment, there is no immediate threat to any settlement or to life, but in the hours to come, if the wind changes direction, we will need to take additional precautions,” Mr Pakdemirli told reporters in the resort town.

He said 10 intubated intensive care patients at Manavgat’s state hospital were transferred to other hospitals as a precaution.

The Antalya region is a popular vacation destination for tourists from Russia and other parts of Europe, but none of the holiday resorts were affected by the fires, officials said.

Firefighters were also tackling wildfires in other parts of Turkey, including one that temporarily closed a road between the southern Turkish cities of Mersin and Antalya, Anadolu reported.

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