By Mehmet Emin Caliskan
ICMELER, Turkey (Reuters) – Until devastated by forest fires, the hills near the Turkish resort town of Marmaris were covered in thick green pine forest. However, these same hills form a ghostly gray-brown landscape surmounted by stumps of trees blackened as sketched in charcoal.
Drone footage of the small tourist resort town of Icmeler near Marmaris before and after what President Tayyip Erdogan has called Turkey’s worst forest fires show the extent of the devastation.
Over the past two weeks, the fires have damaged tens of thousands of hectares of forest in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean provinces, killing eight people and forcing thousands of people, including tourists, to flee.
Similar damage could be seen in before and after drone footage of the village of Bayir and the resort town of Turunc, also in Mugla province, where both Marmaris and Bodrum are located, another important resort town.
Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Monday that the only forest fires that continued to burn were in Mugla districts in Milas and Koycegiz, with nearly 240 fires brought under control in the past 13 days.
Mugla Municipality said 55,000 hectares had been burned – more than double the area burned across Turkey last year – and 36,000 people evacuated.
Strong winds, low humidity and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 ° F) contributed to the spread of the fires. The firefighting efforts involved 15 planes, 64 helicopters and 5,250 people, Pakdemirli said.
The UN climate panel on Monday issued a terrible warning, saying the world is dangerously close to uncontrollable warming and that humans are “unequivocally” to blame, with high levels of greenhouse gases. of greenhouse high enough to guarantee climate change for decades.
The already recorded 1.1 degree Celsius warming was enough to trigger dire weather conditions, including forest fires in Turkey, Greece and the western United States.
(Reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Yesim Dikmen; writing by Daren Butler; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)