With fires raging in Turkey, the European Union rushed to help on Monday to put out a week-old fire that has killed eight people and increased pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
And the forest fires sweeping the Turkish coastal resorts overlooking the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea on large areas of forest and led to the evacuation of tourists from their hotels, and reached its extent to the tourist city of Bodrum, despite the efforts of the firefighting crews.
The repercussions of the disaster also extended beyond the jungle, as Erdogan, who is running in an election within two years that could extend his rule for a third decade, to a wave of criticism for his response, which seemed slow and detached from reality.
The Turkish president was subjected to severe criticism, especially at the end of the week, for throwing tea bags to the population while he was touring one of the worst-affected areas, while a large number of policemen accompanied him.
No planes designated for fires
The government also revealed that it does not have aircraft dedicated to fighting the fires and must therefore rely on outside help to fight the fires.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu thanked Brussels on Monday for sending a plane from Croatia and two planes from Spain.
The European Union also stated that it is “fully in solidarity with Turkey in these very difficult times”, in a message intended to show goodwill after a year of disagreements between the two parties.
European Union data shows that this year’s fire season has been more devastating than others, with high temperatures and high winds fanning the flames. Experts point out that climate change increases the possibility of such accidents being repeated and increases their severity.
Erdogan’s office initially blamed saboteurs for the fires, the worst in Turkey for at least a decade. However, this theory soon evaporated with the increase in the number of fires.
The Turkish Forestry Directorate reported 105 fires in 35 towns and cities across the country since Wednesday.
She indicated that seven of them continued to burn on Monday, most of them near the tourist cities of Antalya and Marmaris.
In Marmaris overlooking the Aegean Sea, the AFP team watched flames rise from the forest-covered hilltops, while the sky looked dark red during the night as smoke filled the air in the heat of about 40 degrees Celsius.
The Meteorological Authority, in turn, warned residents of the poor air quality, while residents suffered from breathing difficulties, while volunteers remained without sleep for several days, trying to help the exhausted firefighters save the forests, which experts said would take generations to restore.
“It is a disaster,” said Marmaris resident Ifran Ozkan, in front of an aid center set up on the side of a road leading to the burning hills, adding, “Many Marmaris residents, like me, cannot sleep peacefully while these fires are burning.”
Rescue boats were on standby near the Marmaris beach to evacuate any people in case the fires spread as it was no longer possible to enter the city.
“We have to be responsible for our lands to prevent our future from being burned, but the situation is very bad now,” Ozkan said.
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