ISTANBUL – Thousands of Turkish firefighters are fighting for a fifth day against raging fires threatening some of Turkey’s major tourist resorts. Six people have already died in the fires.
A child cries out fire, fire, as a family drives through the night trying to escape the surrounding hell in the Marmaris region of Turkey. The video has gone viral in Turkey.
Firefighters backed by helicopters are battling fires raging in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey, which are home to some of Europe’s most important tourist resorts. Record temperatures and strong dry winds hamper their efforts. Authorities have issued evacuation orders for tourists in some seaside resorts. One of the most affected areas is the resort town of Bodrum in Turkey. Bodrum resident Melis Birder spoke to VOA on Sunday.
I feel bad; we are stressed because it is very hot here, ”said Birder. “The one that started in Muscular on the Bodrum Airport Road continues to expand; the rest were shot. As the wind picks up, it becomes more dangerous again. Some people are very stressed, very sad. On the other hand, I was hearing party music from the shore last night.
The fires are a hammer blow to Turkey’s vital tourism industry, still trying to recover from the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many farmers have also been devastated by the fires. This farmer, who did not want to be identified, in the Manavgat region of Turkey, is traumatized by the experience.
He said, “I don’t care if it’s a car or a burnt house but look at these animals. They lost their lives; they are my life, they are my beauties, they are my was born in all this chaos. “I took him from the fire. My children wrapped them in their arms. But his mother died.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday in a convoy of 30 vehicles visited some of the worst affected resorts. He declared the region a disaster area, promising compensation for those who suffered losses. Authorities are investigating whether some of the more than 100 fires could be arson, and Erdogan has given any perpetrator a frightening warning.
He said, “If you tear out our hearts, I swear, we will tear out your hearts; if we find such a connection, there are already indications that we will do whatever it takes.
The government faces growing criticism that the country’s fleet of firefighting aircraft is out of order, relying instead on three leased Russian planes. Erdogan said more planes had arrived, and more were on their way, from neighboring Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan. Authorities say most of the more than 100 fires are under control. But some seaside resorts remain under threat, and with temperatures set to hit new records in the coming days, the fight seems far from over.
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