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Fire truck spraying water on flames next to a road
Firefighters in Turkey have been battling wildfires for five daysImage: Kaan Soyturk/REUTERS

Turkey: Death toll rises as wildfires rage

August 1, 2021

Wildfires on Turkey's southern coast have killed eight people and forced residents and tourists to flee. Italy and Greece are also seeing blazes amid high temperatures across the Mediterranean.


The death toll from five days of wildfires in Turkey's Antalya and Mugla provinces rose to eight on Sunday, as strong winds and hot weather fueled the flames, making firefighting efforts more difficult.

Turkish news agency DHA said the bodies of a Turkish-German couple were found on Sunday in their burned home in Manavgat, Antalya. 

The fires had already claimed the lives of five other people in Manavgat and one person in Marmaris in Mugla province in recent days.

Since the fires broke out Wednesday, 864 people have received medical treatment, Turkey's health minister said.

According to the Forest Ministry, most of the more than 100 wildfires that broke out in Turkey in the past days have been contained, with six still needing to be brought under control.

People fleeing flames in Manavgat district
The fires in Manavgat have claimed several livesImage: Mustafa Ciftci/AA/picture alliance

Numerous evacuations

More than 1,100 residents and tourists in the city of Bodrum in Mugla province were taken to safety in nearly 20 boats on Sunday, according to the mayor, Ahmet Aras. 

The Defense Ministry said residents were also evacuated by boat from the coastal city of Marmaris.

In Antalya, residents of the village of Sirtkoy were also transported to safety, according to broadcaster NTV.

Fires were also still blazing in Manavgat and the inland town of Milas, Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said.

Firefighters are being helped by locals as well as support teams from Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Azerbaijan.

Aerial view of fire in Sirtkoy village, near Manavgat, Antalya
Residents in the village of Sirtkoy had to be evacuatedImage: AP Photo/picture alliance

Turkish authorities say they are investigating the fires as having potentially been set by Kurdish militants.

But the consensus of experts is generally that climate change has greatly promoted fire danger in the region, with accidents by citizens also playing a role.

According to European Union data, Turkey has been hit by 133 wildfires in 2021 so far.

That number is substantially higher than the averages over the past 13 years. Between 2008 and 2020, Turkey logged an average of 43 wildfires over the same number of months.

Fires in Italy, Greece

Wildfires have also hit several other regions across the Mediterranean amid a heat wave in southern Europe. 

The Italian island of Sicily has been one of the areas affected, with people being forced to leave their homes in the town of Catania on Saturday.

An elderly home in the Adriatic city of Pescara also had to be evacuated on Sunday as a wildfire threatened the area, local officials told state TV.

At least five people in the city have been taken to hospitals with injuries, local media reported.

Firefighters were also battling a fire in western Greece that left 15 people in hospital on Saturday with breathing difficulties.

Temperatures in the region were expected to remain at around 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) until Tuesday.

tj/rs (Reuters, AP, AFP)

Fires rage in Europe