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A heat wave in southern Europe has caused huge forest fires along the Mediterranean coast from Turkey to Italy, in which at least eight people have already lost their lives.
In Turkey, the most dangerous situation has developed in the resort areas of Antalya and Marmaris in the province of Mugla, where tourists and residents of neighboring areas urgently needed to be evacuated, where some villages were completely burned.
On Monday, Turkish authorities said firefighters had managed to stop the blaze from spreading to 130 fires, but that did not mean the fires had stopped.
To date, the forests have burned completely to an area of 100 thousand hectares and, most likely, this area will become even larger.
International assistance and criticism of the authorities
The EU has sent firefighting aircraft to Turkey. Earlier, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Ukraine sent their planes. On Monday, Turkish fire brigades resumed operations to put out the blaze, but it continues to spread.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a visit to the city of Manavgat, whose suburbs were damaged by fire, said his government would do everything possible to make life easier for those who lost their homes and property. promising to provide tax relief and other financial and material assistance.
However, not all Turkish citizens considered his actions adequate and adequate, as well as the actions of the country’s government in the fight against this catastrophe.
Opposition groups called for a halt to the protests, saying “the fires have not been extinguished yet because not enough people or equipment have been sent to fight them and the organization of work is far from perfect.”
Almost all critics of the government’s actions wondered why the authorities did not use special aircraft of the Turkish Aeronautical Union to extinguish fires. In response, Erdogan said the League simply does not have such aircraft or rather “there are no aircraft that could be easily used in this area.”
The opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet denied the president’s remarks, citing the union’s official website, which said it had 20 planes and 11 helicopters to fight the blaze.
On Monday, the newspaper’s website also posted a message that the fires from the Manavgat area had spread to the neighboring Gundogmush area. Residents of the center of the area were ordered to evacuate urgently after the fire began to spread to the main square.
Meanwhile, social media in Turkey is full of appeals to other countries to help Turkey put out the fires. The hashtag #HelpTurkey has been used more than 2.4 million times on Twitter.
“We do not have enough firefighting planes to stop this. We urgently need airplanes,” said an English-language message issued by Turkish actors, singers and other celebrities.
In response, President Erdogan’s press secretary said Fakhreddin Altunthat this whole social media campaign is just an attempt to make Turkey look weak.
“Voluntary help and support is essential for our national unity,” he wrote. “However, this so-called aid campaign, organized from abroad, was launched for ideological reasons, with the aim of making our state look weak, to weaken. the unity of the state and the nation “.
He used another hashtag #StrongTurkiye, which in turn was reposted by hundreds of thousands of government supporters.
Fires in Italy
The situation in Turkey remains indeed serious, but Sicily, the Adriatic coast of Italy and western Greece are also suffering from fires.
In Italy, holidaymakers left the beach of Pescara in panic on Sunday as clouds of smoke and flames appeared over the nearby Pineta Dannunziana National Reserve.
More than 800 Pescara residents were evacuated, including all the monks of the local monastery.
“Because of the smoke, we had to evacuate a lot of houses and beaches,” said Pescara Mayor Carlo Machi. “The biggest problem is the hot wind. We are doing everything possible to minimize the damage.”
Italian firefighters battled the blaze all weekend. Fires broke out on the island of Sicily, as well as in the provinces of Puglia, Calabria, Lazio and Campania.
They have not yet been able to completely extinguish the fires in the area of the Sicilian cities of Catania, Palermo and Syracuse.
Despite the fact that all 15 firefighting aircraft available in Italy took part in the firefighting, it is very difficult to stop the fire, mainly due to the very hot weather. The temperature in Sicily, for example, exceeded 45 degrees Celsius.
Catania airport had to be closed for a long time to accommodate firefighting helicopters and planes.
Greece: lots of fires and power shortages
A similar situation has developed in Greece, where temperatures reached 42 and 44 degrees. Nearly 300 firefighters battled during the night of August 1, sinking pine forests and olive groves east of the city of Patras at the northwestern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula.
Forest fires occur in Greece almost every summer, but this year due to the heat they were much more intense and spread to a greater extent.
In addition, the heatwave in Greece has brought the country’s energy system to its limits. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged citizens to save electricity as the system is overloaded with an additional three million tourists.
“We have to deal with the worst heat wave since 1987,” he said. “It is necessary to do everything in our power to prevent our energy system from collapsing. We call on the citizens to help us in this. “