Turkey: Massive forest fires rage in Antalya province
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Southern Turkey has been struck by a deadly forest fire, with the flames spreading into the town of Manvgat, near the resort city of Antalya, on Wednesday. Local news footage has shown people running from their cars as streets were engulfed in black smoke.
One person has been reported dead and several have been injured as the fire spread right into the middle of town.
Manavgat Mayor Şükrü Sözen said flames had spread as far as the town centre, where many buildings were being evacuated.
He said: “The fire has spread to the town centre. It’s growing even more with the wind.
“It’s impossible for us to determine the size of the damage. There is damage in the villages too. We have not seen anything like this.”
He told CNN: “It’s an unbelievably bad sight. We literally didn’t even realise what we were in.”
Turkey’s agriculture and forestry minister, Bekir Pakdemirli, said an 82-year old man, who was home alone, had died while evacuation efforts were underway in the Kepezbeleni village of Akseki.
He urged residents to comply with evacuation advice and warnings.
He also confirmed 20 people were stranded in the Oymapinar Dam, with rescuers battling to reach them.
Mr Pakdemirli said: “Ambulances and AFAD (the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority) teams are on the way for our citizens in Oymapinar Dam.
“The road is open. They will try to evacuate them.”
A total of 1,832 fire personnel are battling the blaze, with three planes and 29 helicopters also dispatched.
Turkey’s AFAD disaster agency said emergency teams from nearby provinces were also called into action, while authorities evacuated settlements near the forest.
Four neighbourhoods have been evacuated so far.
Muhittin Bocek, mayor of Antalya, said the fire had started at four different points before spreading over a wider area.
Authorities are still unclear about what exactly started the fires.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said: “Our hope is that the fires both in Manavgat and in various parts of Turkey are brought under control and extinguished.”
Antalya, a popular destination for both foreign and local tourists, is known for its scorching summer heat.
Mr Bocek said the extreme heat and strong winds were fanning the fire as it swept through the pine forest.
The fire comes as Turkey battles with a series of disasters caused by extreme weather conditions in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, flash floods in the Black Sea provinces of Rize and Artvin damaged homes and property. The floods killed six people in Rize, according to AFAD.
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