Deadly wildfires deal new blow to Turkish tourism

Forest fires rage near Turkish resorts, killing four

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Ankara: According to reports, 4 people were killed and more than 180 were injured on Thursday. Thousands of firefighters are fighting the fire spreading in the Mediterranean resort on the southern coast of Turkey.

Officials also launched an investigation, suspecting that the fire at four locations east of Antalya, a tourist hotspot on Wednesday, was caused by arson.

The Turkish Disaster and Emergencies Office said three people were killed, including an 82-year-old man living alone.

The NTV channel later stated that a 25-year-old man died in Marmaris while trying to provide assistance.

The fire first occurred in a sparsely populated area about 75 kilometers (45 miles) east of Antalya—a holiday destination especially popular with Russian and other Eastern European tourists.

But on Thursday, they got closer and closer to the sandy beach dotted with hotels and resorts.

Images on social media and Turkish television showed residents jumping out of their cars and fleeing for their lives on smoky streets illuminated by orange flames.

The heavy smoke turned the sky over the seaside hotel building in Manavgat town into a deep orange.

At least 183 people were hospitalized.

Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a hotel near the tourist city of Bodrum is also being evacuated — about 300 kilometers west of Antalya — because of a new fire on the southern coast.

The fire was raging, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and gusts of 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour.

But Antalya Mayor Muhyiddin Bosek said he suspected a foul because the fire broke out in four locations at the same time.

“This shows that there was an arson attack, but at this stage we have no clear information about this,” Bocek said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that an investigation has been launched.

The Russian Embassy stated that Moscow has sent three giant firefighting aircraft to dump flame retardants into the burning forest to control the fire.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias told the Turkish Foreign Minister that Greece’s relations with neighboring countries are strained and that it is “ready to provide assistance when needed”.

Azerbaijan also provided help.

More than 4,000 Turkish firefighters have been sent to the area to help control the damage and find people in need.

On Thursday, they rescued 10 people who were trapped in a boat in a lake surrounded by burning forest.

“All the means of the state have been mobilized,” Environment Minister Murat Kurum said. “All our teams are on site.”

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