Three dead as wildfire in south Turkey rages on -minister

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Residents flee as winds fan massive wildfire in southern Turkey
FILE PHOTO: Plumes of black smoke rise from the forest around Manavgat, 75 km (45 miles) east of the resort city of Antalya, Turkey, July 28, 2021. REUTERS/Kaan Soyturk

July 29, 2021

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Three people were found dead as a forest fire burned for a second day in southern Turkey on Thursday, the country’s AFAD disaster agency and the agriculture minister said.

Efforts to rescue others and extinguish the blaze continued after more than 100 people were evacuated, required medical treatment or suffered property damage.

Television footage showed burnt buildings and people fleeing across fields as firefighters backed by helicopters battled blazes that were in some cases near tourist destinations.

Hot weather and strong winds caused fires to spread around the town of Manavgat, 75 km (45 miles) east of the resort city of Antalya, and nearby villages.

Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said an 82-year-old man had been found dead during the evacuation of Kepezbeleni, 16 km northeast of Manavgat, and two people were found dead in Degirmenli, 20 km east of Manavgat.

A plane, a drone, 19 helicopters, about 250 vehicles and 960 personnel were involved in firefighting efforts.

“Houses located in areas that could be impacted by the fire have been evacuated. Several homes, offices, farms, agricultural fields, greenhouses, and vehicles have been damaged by fire,” AFAD said.

Authorities evacuated 18 villages and districts in Antalya while 16 more villages were evacuated in the neighbouring provinces of Adana and Mersin, Pakdemirli said. Authorities evacuated a Manavgat hospital.

Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast is known for its scorching summer heat, which often causes wildfires. Officials have said the latest fires are the biggest to date.

Pakdemirli said there had been 41 wildfires in 13 of Turkey’s 81 provinces since Tuesday, of which 31 were under control. Blazes in Osmaniye and Kayseri were still burning.

Television footage showed a separate fire raging in hills near a residential area in the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris.

Turkey has battled a series of disasters caused by extreme weather conditions this summer, including flash floods last week that killed six people in the Black Sea region.

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen, Ezgi Erkoyun and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans, Catherine Evans and Timothy Heritage)