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Wildfire near Turkish resort largely contained




A wind-fed wildfire raging near a popular resort town in southwestern Turkey has been largely brought under control, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

The blaze broke out in the Bordubet area near Marmaris on the Aegean coast on Tuesday and spread rapidly, blackening swaths of pine forest and driving hundreds of people from their homes.

Speaking to reporters after an inspection of the area, Erdogan said around 4,000 hectares of forest had been affected by the fire. Reforestation efforts will begin as soon as possible, he said.

We saw a (fire) in a small area but other than that thank God it was largely contained, he told reporters.

More than 45 people were affected by the fire and 19 of them were taken to hospital for treatment, Erdogan said.

Above all, we are happy that there was no loss of life and that no one was missing, he said.

Authorities on Thursday arrested a 34-year-old man who allegedly confessed to starting the fire following an argument with family members, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Erdogan said he favored harsh sentences for those found guilty of starting wildfires, adding that the country should also start a debate on whether to reinstate the death penalty.

Forest fire in Turkey
Flames burn in a forest in the Bordubet region (AP)

More than 2,500 firefighters and 41 water-dropping planes and helicopters were deployed to fight the blaze. On Friday, a plane from Azerbaijan and three helicopters from Qatar joined their efforts.

More than 400 people have been evacuated from their homes as a precautionary measure, Turkey’s disaster management agency said.

Prolonged drought conditions in several Mediterranean countries, a heatwave last week that reached northern Germany and high fuel costs for aircraft needed to fight forest fires have heightened concerns across Europe this summer.

Last summer, fires fueled by high winds and scorching temperatures tore through forests in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions, including Marmaris. The wildfires, which have killed at least eight people and countless animals, have been described as the worst in Turkey’s history.

The government has been criticized for its inadequate response and preparation to fight large-scale wildfires, including the lack of modern firefighting aircraft.




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