December 2, 2022

Turkey evacuates panicked tourists by boat from a wildfire

ISTANBUL (AP) – Panicked tourists in Turkey rushed to the coast on Saturday to wait for rescue boats, asking them to evacuate some hotels at the Bodrum Aegean sea resort due to the dangers posed by a nearby wildfire.

The Coast Guard led the operation and asked authorities for private boats and boats to assist in efforts to evacuate from the sea as new wildfires erupted. A video showed smoke and fire engulfing a mountain near the beach.

The death toll from wildfires in Turkey’s Mediterranean cities has risen to six on Saturday, the forest minister said. The fire, which has been raging across Turkey since Wednesday, has burned forests and some residences, occupying villages and tourist sites and forcing people to evacuate.

More than 100 Russian tourists have been evacuated from the port and relocated to new hotels, according to Russian news agency Sputnik.

In a video of the boat fire from the sea, one of the evacuees was stunned by the speed of the fire and said, “This is unbelievable, unbelievable. How did this fire get here (here) in 5 minutes? He was not named in the video.

Agriculture and Forests Minister Bekir Baghdemirli said on Saturday that 91 fires with 101 winds were brought under control in high winds and scorching heat. Fire-affected areas in five provinces have been declared disaster zones.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some affected areas on Saturday and inspected the damage from a helicopter.

Speaking from the city of Manoukat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would reimburse the people affected by the fire and rebuild their homes. He said taxes, social security and loan payments to victims would be deferred and loans would be provided to small businesses with zero interest.

“We can do nothing but desire God’s mercy for the lives we have lost, but we can change everything that has been burned,” he said.

Erdogan said the number of fire-fighting aircraft had increased from 6 to 13, including aircraft from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and that thousands of Turkish personnel and dozens of helicopters and drones were assisting in the firefighting efforts.

In Marmaris’ speech on Saturday night, Erdogan said one of the fires there was started by children and other investigations were ongoing.

At least five people have been killed in a fire in Manawat, one in Marmaris. Both cities are Mediterranean tourist destinations. Tourism is a major source of income for Turkey, and business owners believe this summer will be even better than last year, when epidemic travel restrictions caused tourism to fall.

Coca-Cola, the health minister, said 400 people affected by the blaze had been treated in hospitals and 10 were hospitalized for burns. In Marmaris, 159 people were hospitalized and one is being treated for burns.

In southern Hatay province, fires spread to populated areas, but were later brought under control.

Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey during the dry summer months.

Meanwhile, a heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa, led to wildfires across the Mediterranean, including Italy and Greece.

Dozens of firefighters battled dozens of high-temperature fires on the Italian island of Sicily on Saturday. About 150 people stranded in two coastal areas in the city of Catania were evacuated by sea late Friday, where they were taken away by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.

In western Greece, wildfires on Saturday forced firefighters, the Coast Guard and private boats to evacuate four villages and people on a beach.

The fire broke out in a mountainous forest 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Greece’s third-largest city of Patras, Civil Defense Minister Michaelis Chrysocoidis said late Saturday. With the help of strong winds, the fire fell on the slopes and threatened the coastal villages.

The Civil Defense Agency sent text messages to residents of four villages – two in the mountains and two across the sea – to leave. Local media reported that some villagers refused to leave and tried to extinguish the fire with garden hoses.

Temperatures in Greece and neighboring countries in southeastern Europe are expected to rise by 42 degrees Celsius (above 107 Fahrenheit) on Monday in several cities and towns.

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Robert Badendeek in Istanbul, Colin Barry in Milan and Dimitris Nellas in Athens.

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