Southern Turkish resort now grapples with large forest fires as well as COVID-19
Italy is fighting forest fires in Sicily and Greece is fighting fires in the west of the country, but neither country has faced the conflagrations that have swept Turkey’s southern coast since last Wednesday. At least eight people died in Turkey due to forest fires, including two in the city of Manavgat on Sunday, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. Five other people in Manavgat and one in Marmaris have also died in recent days.
Authorities say more than 100 fires have broken out in Turkey in the past six days and most of them have been brought under control. Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Azerbaijan have deployed teams to help Turkish firefighters and volunteers fight the fires, and the European Union said sunday he helped mobilize three firefighting planes to fight the fires on the Turkish coast. Forest fires prompted boat evacuations in the popular Bodrum resort on Sunday under the conditions of Mayor Ahmet Aras described as “hell”.
Bodrum and other holiday areas on the southwest coast of Turkey have been struggling with a sharp drop in tourism of the COVID-19 pandemic before the fires broke out last week. “We closed the last tourist season down 75%,” Aras said at the end of June. “We expect a recovery from July with the start of flights from Russia and Europe.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in June that “God willing, we are going to revive tourism and have a tourist push”. Tourism has made jumps dramatically in July, but so do COVID-19 cases.
The damage from the wildfires and the spread of the Delta variant is expected to hit Turkey’s tourism sector as it rebounds, but the damage extends much further. “The animals are on fire”, Muzeyyan Kacar, a 56-year-old farmer from the village of Kacarlar, told CNN. “Everything will burn. Our land, our animals and our home.”
The southern coast of the northern Mediterranean was unusually hot and dry, leaving the area vulnerable to fires. But in Turkey at least, investigators are trying to determine whether some of the raging fires were the result of arson.