Forest fires in Turkey have left at least six dead and more than 50 people hospitalized, while many houses were burned, forcing dozens of towns and neighborhoods to be evacuated. The south and west of the country are the most affected areas. There is 71 fires declared since Wednesday, of which 57 outbreaks were controlled.
The most affected area is the province of Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast. It is a popular European and Russian tourism destination. There were three deaths there, at a time when the flames affected 21 of the 81 Turkish provinces. It is estimated that more than 3,000 head of cattle were lost due to the fire, while the flames devoured large agricultural areas and dozens of villages had to be evacuated.
El presidente Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised an investigation to determine the source of the fires. One hypothesis being considered is that it would be a sabotage of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PPK, an insurgent group in conflict with the Turkish government for decades.
“There are several speculations about the fires. I will repeat what I said from the beginning. The investigation is ongoing and when we have concrete findings we will reveal it, “said Turkish Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli.
The main opposition party in Turkey, the social democrat CHP, dismissed the idea of sabotage, after an interview with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. “(Soylu) said that there is no indication that the fires were due to sabotage. They could have been caused by the high temperatures,” said Engin Özkoç, a CHP deputy. The opposition criticizes the Erdogan government for not taking preventive measures and for not sending enough tankers to fire areas.
For now a person was arrested for the fires in the province of Mersin. In the tourist city of Marmaris, where there was one death, two ten-year-old boys confessed that they wanted to burn a book and that caused the fire, according to the newspaper Liberty.
The newspaper indicates that the rise in temperatures that is forecast for the next few days could worsen the situation. Southerly winds are expected that would raise the temperature to 37 degrees in Istanbul and 40 in other regions. The Russian government has already offered assistance to Erdogan.