Ankara: At least three people were killed and dozens of people were hospitalized in southern Turkey after strong winds fanned two separate forest fires, officials said Thursday.
A wildfire that broke out Wednesday near the Mediterranean coastal resort town of Manavgat, in Antalya province, had largely been contained, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said. But another fire that started early Thursday and swept through the district of Akseki, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north, kept firefighters engaged.
Three people were killed in the fires, and authorities evacuated close to 20 neighbourhoods or villages.
The dead included a 82-year-old man in Akseki’s Kepezbeleni neighbourhood, where some 80 per cent of the houses were incinerated, the district’s governor, Volkan Hulur, told the the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Turkish government’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said that along with the three victims, at least 112 people were “affected” by the fires, including 58 who were hospitalised, mostly for smoke inhalation.
Authorities also rescued 10 people who were stranded at a restaurant by a dam near Akseki.
AFAD said several homes, businesses, crops and vehicles were damaged in Manavgat but did not elaborate.
“At the moment, there is no immediate threat to any settlement or to life, but in the hours to come, if the wind changes direction, we will need to take additional precautions,” Pakdemirli, the forest minister, told reporters in the resort town.
The Antalya region is a popular vacation destination for tourists from Russia and other parts of Europe, but none of the holiday resorts were affected by the fires, officials said.
Firefighters were also tackling wildfires in other parts of Turkey, including one that temporarily closed a highway between the southern Turkish cities of Mersin and Antalya, Anadolu reported.
Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months, although some forest fires have been blamed on arson.