update / videoAlmost all forest fires in Turkey are now under control. Thousands of firefighters were able to contain 122 of 129 fires in 35 provinces, according to a government spokesperson. The fires, which have raged since Wednesday, have so far killed eight people. Greece and Italy are also ravaged by forest fires.
Fires that have not yet been brought under control are particularly dangerous in the towns of Bodrum, Marmaris and Manavgat on the south coast. Many people had to be evacuated there, including by sea. Around 180 people have been injured so far.
Thousands of firefighters are busy fighting the blaze. Drones and 45 fire-fighting helicopters are also deployed. However, the Turkish government has been criticized for not having firefighting planes capable of spraying more water over a wider area. Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan are helping with firefighting planes, among others. Turkey has reportedly declined an offer of aid from Israel.
The EU also came to the rescue and sent three firefighting planes, one from Croatia and two from Spain. Turkey itself has asked for help. The country is a member of the European Civil Protection Mechanism (rescEU). When a country can no longer cope with an emergency, it can ask for help. “The EU stands in solidarity with Turkey,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič. “And we’re ready if more help is needed.”
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In the province of Antalya, several Dutch holidaymakers are evacuated. Eight Dutch people were involved, according to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. They continued their vacation elsewhere in the country, a spokesperson said.
Turkey’s southern coast has been ravaged by dozens of forest fires since Wednesday. These are the biggest fires in years. More than 300 people have been injured to date and require medical attention. According to official data, nearly 95,000 hectares of forest have already been reduced to ashes this year. On average, around 13,500 hectares have burned since 2008.
Forest fires have also devastated parts of Greece. On the Greek island of Rhodes, many residents are deprived of electricity and water due to a forest fire that broke out on Sunday afternoon. The village of Psinthos in the Valley of the Butterflies, a tourist attraction on the west side of the island, and the military camp of Kalamonas were evacuated. Residents of Maritsa and Kalythia were told to leave their villages at 3.30am on Monday.
The fire broke out around noon on Sunday between the villages of Soroni and Tholou and spread to the whole region. The fire is still raging in the Kalamonas region, according to local media. About forty firefighters, assisted by reservists and army volunteers, fought the blaze. They receive aerial assistance from a firefighting plane and three firefighting helicopters. Further help is on the way from Crete.
According to the Greek authorities, the Rhodes fire is almost under control. Partly because of the deployment of more firefighters, things are moving in the right direction. “The first goal, the protection of human life, has been achieved,” Governor George Hatzimarkos of the South Aegean Islands said. The governor added that the damage to the power grid has also been repaired.
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A forest fire in Zeria in the Achaia region of the Peloponnese has now been brought under control. About 300 firefighters are fighting the blaze with five firefighting planes, seven firefighting helicopters and dozens of fire engines.
The heat wave in Greece is the worst since 1987, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. On Monday it turned 45 degrees in parts of the country. There has been an official heat wave since Thursday. According to forecasts, the temperature peak is Monday or Tuesday.
The conditions are the same as in 1987, when it was also very hot for days. At the time, thousands of people died from the heat and smog. For the rest of the week it will stay well above 30 and sometimes 35 degrees in many places in Greece.
In the Italian town of Pescara on the Adriatic coast, people fled the beach on Sunday when they saw smoke and flames rising from a nearby pine forest. Five people were injured and hospitalized after trying to put out the flames that had reached their homes.
Italian firefighters have their hands full with forest fires, especially in the south of the country. Firefighters have had to move 800 times in the past 24 hours. On the island of Sicily alone, firefighters had to intervene 250 times. A fire just outside the eastern coastal city of Catania has forced the local airport, popular with tourists, to be temporarily closed. About 150 people trapped in the flames near Catania were taken to safety by police boat.
According to the regional government, fires were started. Authorities expect the highest fire risk level for eastern and northern Sicily on Saturday, with temperatures around 40 degrees. The heatwave is expected to last all week.
Forest fires are also raging in the southern regions of Puglia, Calabria and Campania and in the Lazio region, which includes the capital Rome. Previously was the island of Sardinia already hit hard.
South-eastern Europe is ravaged by extreme heat. It the mercury rises to almost 45 degrees in the coming days in Turkey, Greece and Sicily, among others. The cause is the southerly wind which brings warm air from the Sahara.
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