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Turkey Wildfires: Tourists Evacuated By Boat

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The death toll from four days of raging fires on Turkey’s southern coast has risen to six, authorities said Saturday. Some 60 fires have been reported in 17 provinces on Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, fuelled by high heat and strong winds. Further wildfires have spread across other countries in the Mediterranean, including Italy and Greece, caused by the worst heatwave in decades in southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa.

Tourists staying at the Turkish holiday resort of Bodrum were evacuated and told to wait for rescue boats on Saturday evening as fresh wildfires erupted nearby, according to local media.

Firefighters were battling forest fires in southern Turkey for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday, as the death toll rose to six, Turkey’s official Anadolu agency reported. The death toll in the fires, which also injured more than 300 people, rose from four to six after the bodies of two workers were found trying to fight the flames, the agency said.

Ten fires were still raging in the region while 88 others had been brought under control since Wednesday, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said in a tweet.

Turkey Wildfires

Two forest workers died on Saturday, the country’s health minister said, taking the total death toll from the blazes to six, while hundreds more have been injured or suffered health problems.

In the Aegean resort of Bodrum, coast guard units led the rescue operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist the efforts. Mayor of Bodrum Ahmet Aras has been posting videos and updates, and said clear-up efforts continue in the area.

While new fires have sprung up, the minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said on Saturday that 91 of the 101 fires across the country have been brought under control.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover rent for people affected by the fire, and rebuild their homes. Taxes, social security and credit payments will also be postponed for those affected and small businesses will be offered credit with zero interest, he said.

“We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost but we can replace everything that was burned,” Mr Erdogan said. Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the hot and dry summer months.

Mr Erdogan has said authorities are investigating the possibility of “sabotage” causing the country’s fires.

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