MANAVGAT, Turkey, July 31 (Reuters) – Days after a massive forest fire in southern Turkey drove his family from the house they had lived in for four decades, Mehmet Demir returned on Saturday to find a burning building, charred goods and ashes.
Box springs, a ladder, metal chairs and kitchen utensils were the only things identifiable after some of the worst fires in years ravaged the area, many still burning four days after they erupted on Wednesday.
Demir’s house, near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat and not far from the popular tourist resort of Antalya, has been hit by one of some 100 fires that authorities say broke out this week in the south and western Turkey. Stifling heat and strong winds fanned the flames.
“The fire spread through the highlands and suddenly raged,” Demir told Reuters, looking around the wreckage of his house, built in 1982. “We had to flee to central Manavgat . Then we came back to find a house like this. “
“It was our (only) economy for the last 39-40 years. We now have the clothes we wear, me and my wife. There is nothing to be done. that words fail. “
The death toll in the blazes rose to six on Saturday, as two firefighters died in efforts to contain the blaze in Manavgat, officials said. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.
Smoke from the Antalya and Mersin fires has spread to the island of Cyprus, about 150 km (100 miles), according to satellite images.
A new fire broke out in the popular resort town of Bodrum on the Aegean coast on Saturday and some residential areas and hotels were evacuated, broadcasters said.
Video footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the mountains above Bodrum and a helicopter unloading water as firefighters attempted to control the blaze before it reached residential areas.
Forest fires are common in southern Turkey in the summer, but authorities say the latest fires have covered a much larger area.
HEAT WAVES IN THE REGION
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a total of 101 fires had broken out in the past four days, of which 91 were under control.
The fires continued in the southern coastal provinces of Antalya, Mersin and the western coastal province of Mugla, including Bodrum and central Usak province, Pakdemirli said.
Turkish meteorological authorities said the forecast indicated heat waves along the coastal regions of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. Temperatures are expected to reach 43 Celsius to 47 Celsius (109.4 – 116.6 Fahrenheit) in Antalya next week.
President Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to Manavgat on Saturday that all damaged houses will be rebuilt and the losses compensated, adding that Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and Iran have sent anti-war planes. fire and support teams in affected areas.
In neighboring Greece, authorities warned the public against construction and unnecessary travel on Friday as temperatures soared to 40 ° C (104 ° F) in Athens and the ancient Acropolis, its most visited monument, took off. was briefly forced to close. Read more
On the Italian island of Sicily, firefighters said on Saturday they were battling for a second day in a row forest fires that reached the city of Catania, forcing people to leave their homes and the local airport to temporarily close . Read more
Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen in Istanbul Editing by Dominic Evans, Clelia Oziel and Frances Kerry
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