Four dead in wildfires across southern Turkey

Four dead in wildfires across southern Turkey
Azerbaijan said it would send 500 emergency response personnel to help Turkey battle the fires (AP)

Four people have died in a string of wildfires raging across southern Turkey, officials have said.

Fire crews continue to fight blazes that have burned down homes and forced people to evacuate villages and beach resorts.

Firefighters were tackling wildfires in 14 locations across six provinces in Turkey’s Mediterranean and southern Aegean region, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Firefighters in Kirli village in Antalya province (AP)

A total of 57 others wildfires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat had been brought under control since Wednesday, he said.

The worst fires were in the Manavgat and Akseki regions, in Antalya province, where strong winds on Wednesday pushed the fire towards settlements.

An 82-year-old man and a married couple died, more than 50 people were hospitalised and dozens of homes were burned. More than 25 neighbourhoods or villages were evacuated.

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old volunteer died in another fire near the resort of Marmaris, about 320km (200 miles) west of Antalya late on Thursday, raising the death toll in the fires to four.

A firefighter in Kirli (AP)

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the man was taking drinking water to firefighters, but was involved in a motorcycle crash and died in the fire.

The mountainside fire in Marmaris briefly threatened holiday homes and hotels on Thursday, while guests at a luxury hotel in the Aegean beach resort of Guvercinlik, near the town of Bodrum, were evacuated in boats, according to reports.

Azerbaijan announced it would send 500 emergency response personnel, helicopters and other equipment to help close ally Turkey battle the fires.

Mr Erdogan said Azerbaijan would also provide an amphibious firefighting aircraft, in addition to planes sent from Russia and Ukraine.
Neighbouring Greece also offered help.

Meanwhile, authorities in Greece have ordered additional fire patrols and infrastructure inspections as the country grapples with a heatwave fed by hot air from Africa that is expected to last more than a week.

Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in southeast Europe are expected to climb to 42C (107.6 Fahrenheit) in many cities and towns on Monday, easing later next week.

Villagers attempt to bring a fire in Kirli village under control (AP)

Authorities have launched investigations into the fires.

Fahrettin Altun, a top aide to Erdogan, said “those responsible will have to account for the attacks against nature and forests”.

The mayor for Marmaris said he could not rule out “sabotage” as a cause for the fire at the resort.

Mr Erdogan said on Friday that the country’s interior ministry and intelligence services were “engaged in an intense effort” to shed light on the fires.

Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the dry summer months, although some previous forest fires have been blamed on arson or outlawed Kurdish militants.

In other provinces, authorities declared a ban on people entering forests in a bid to prevent more fires.

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