In many countries around the Mediterranean, forest and land fires are raging. Tourists had to be evacuated when a new fire broke out in Bodrum, Turkey – at the same time two firefighters lost their lives in Antalya.
Two Turkish firefighters were killed on Saturday in connection with an operation to fight a forest fire near a popular tourist resort in Antalya.
“We lost two heroic brothers who were martyred in fighting the fires. Our pain is great,” Turkish Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli wrote on Twitter, according to the official Anadolu news agency.
This brings the number of deaths caused by the fires in the southern Turkish coast to six. According to the government, a total of 98 fires have broken out since Wednesday, of which 88 are now under control.
A big fire also broke out on Saturday in the tourist resort of Bodrum and according to media reports, residents were evacuated from their homes and tourists from hotels.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Antalya on Saturday and promised to compensate those affected. The president also took the opportunity to commend the country’s rescue service.
“According to the assessment of international organizations, we are a country in the world that responds to fires faster and more effectively,” Erdogan said, according to Anadolu Agency.
Forest fires are common in southern Turkey during the hot summer months, but this year’s fires have destroyed a much larger area than usual.
Weather forecasts raise fears that the worst is yet to come. According to the meteorological authorities, the temperature around Antalya will rise to 43-47 degrees in the coming days, well above the seasonal average.
Satellite images show that smoke from the fires on the southern coast has now reached Cyprus, some 150 kilometers away.
40 degrees and hot winds
Forest and land fires also continue to burn around Sicily, fueled by temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius and hot winds.
In the city of Catania on the east coast, people had to leave their homes and the local airport had to close temporarily, according to the rescue service. Via Twitter posts, firefighters announced that 250 operations had been carried out in Sicily in the past 24 hours, of which 50 were in the area around Catania.
Flames have devastated the seaside resort of La Cabanina in the south, and photos posted on social media show burned out umbrellas and sunbeds on the beach. It is also burning in the province of Palermo and ash is falling on the capital, Sicily, according to local media reports.
Earlier this week, large fires broke out on the Italian island of Sardinia. To put out the fires, Italy asked for help from the European Union, which sent four firefighting planes. According to the Italian branch of the WWF, fires in Sardinia have destroyed 20,000 hectares of land.
In Patras, Greece’s third city, about 145 firefighters and eight firefighting planes clashed, Saturday, in a forest fire that destroyed about a dozen homes. Authorities said a small number of people were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.
Residents in several villages around the city were evacuated, as were tourists in the nearby coastal town of Longós. According to the Greek news agency ANA, the highway connecting the Peloponnese peninsula, where Patras is the largest city, to Athens has been closed.
Greece was also plagued by a heat wave with temperatures rising to 44 degrees.
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