Several panic-stricken tourists rushed to the Turkish coast this Saturday in areas where forest fires are threatening tourist resorts, after the coast guard asked private boats and yachts to help evacuate the hotels.
Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Bekir Pakdemirli, said today that 88 of the 98 fires that have broken out in recent days – sparked by scorching heat and strong winds – have already been brought under control, but several affected neighborhoods in five provinces have been declared disaster zones by the Turkish emergency authorities.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some burned areas today, inspecting the damage from a helicopter.
Speaking from the city of Manavgat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government will pay the rents for the houses of people who were affected by the fires, as well as rebuild the damaged buildings, adding that the payment of taxes, social security and credits will be delayed while the small businesses will receive credits at zero interest.
“We can’t do anything else if we don’t ask God’s mercy for the lives we’ve lost, but we can replace everything that’s been burned,” Erdogan said.The Turkish President also said that the number of planes fighting the fires had increased from six to 13, thanks mainly to the help of planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, in addition to thousands of Turks, dozens of helicopters and drones that are helping to fight fires.
At least five people died in the fires in Manavgat and one died in Marmaris. Both cities are located on the Mediterranean and are tourist destinations.
The worst-affected region is the coastal province of Antalya, a popular destination for European and Russian tourists, where three people died on Thursday.
Forest fires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the summer months, but this year a heat wave in southern Europe, fueled by warm air from Africa, has caused fires across the region.
A situation that is unlikely to ease for at least the next week, as temperatures in southeastern Europe are expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius from Monday.Turkey has attributed some of the forest fires to criminals and illegal Kurdish militants, and investigations are underway, Erdogan said today.
Tourism is an important source of revenue for Turkey, and business owners had expected this summer to be much more profitable than last year, when travel restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic caused big declines in revenue.
Source: SÁBADO by www.sabado.pt.
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