Turkey wildfires: Six now dead and hundreds homeless as devastating toll of disaster becomes clear

·2-min read
Turkey Wildfire (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Turkey Wildfire (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Six people are now known to have died in the vast wildfires ravaging southern and western Turkey, authorities said on Saturday.

Two firefighters lost their lives as they battled with flames near the town of Manavgat.

The tragedy was revealed as ministers said that, while 88 blazes had been brought under control, 10 were still burning dangerously across the landscape.

The blazes have been breaking out since Wednesday amid soaring temperatures and strong winds.

The southern coastal provinces of Antalya, Adana, Osmaniye, Mersin and the western region of Mugla have all been severely hit.

Hundreds of people have had to flee homes while thousands of firefighters have been deployed from across the country to deal with the crisis. More than 50 people have had to be taken to hospital, while hundreds of homes are thought to have been burned to the ground.

On Saturday morning, as some people began returning to properties in areas now considered safe, the full extent of the horror was revealed to them: homes left as charred ruins.

“We are now left with the clothes we are wearing, me and my wife,” one Mehmet Demir told the Reuters news agency after returning to find the family house where the couple had ived since 1982 destroyed. “There is nothing to do. This is when words fail."

So vast have the fires been that satellite imagery shows the smoke from them is now reaching the island of Cyprus 100 miles across the Mediterranean Sea.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has announced that it is sending hundreds of emergency responders to help with the effort, alongside helicopters and specialist equipment.

Russia and Ukraine have also sent planes to help tackle the fires from the skies, with neighbouring Greece offering assistance.

Among the others fatalities are an 82-year-old man, a married couple and a 25-year-old volunteer who was doing motorcycle runs with drinking water for firefighters on the front line.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised an investigation to determine if any of the fires were caused deliberately.

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