Forest fires in southern Turkey and Cyprus continue to rage

Forest fires in Greece

A forest fire on a hill in the Athens suburb of Voula. Due to a lack of precipitation and high temperatures, the risk of forest fires is increasing in Greece. Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/AP/dpa

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Massive forest fires raged in the Mediterranean region last year. Fires have now broken out again in south-west Turkey and Cyprus. Wind and heat make extinguishing work difficult.

Heavy bush and Forest fires raged for the third day in a row in south-west Turkey and in the north of the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

In the southwestern Turkish holiday region Marmaris more than 270 people were brought to safety on Thursday. The fire continued to spread because high temperatures and strong winds made extinguishing efforts difficult, Forest and Agriculture Minister Vahit Kirisci said. So far, almost 3000 hectares of land have been affected. The broadcaster TRT reported that a forest fire was also raging in Kahramanmaras in south-eastern Turkey.

The fire in Marmaris broke out on Tuesday near Bördübet in a national park. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Thursday, according to the state news agency Anadolu, that one person had been arrested in Marmaris. She confessed to arson and stated that she set the fire out of anger over a dispute with the family. The Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu pointed out on Wednesday evening that the Mediterranean particularly endangered by forest fires, also because of climate change. He accused the government of a lack of preparation.

Again and again great destruction

Forest fires caused great destruction in parts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region in the summer months of last year. Numerous people died. At the time, the Turkish government was subjected to sharp criticism, among other things because there were no operational fire-fighting aircraft available at the beginning.

to the current one extinguishing work According to official information, 14 airplanes and 47 helicopters took part. Almost 3,000 emergency services fought against the flames.

Two firefighting planes from Israel were expected in northern Cyprus, as reported by the Turkish Cypriot broadcaster Bayrak TV. Since Wednesday there have also been planes from the Republic Cyprus from the south of the island and helicopters from Turkey.

The fights against the fires in the north have brought the two parts of the island a little bit closer. Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot part in the south and a Turkish Cypriot part in the north since 1974. The political leaders of the two parts have broken off negotiations to end the division since 2017.