Turkey Wildfires: Heartbreaking Photos Show People Left To Battle Blazes Alone
Turkey’s coastal region has been devastated by wildfires in recent days, and at least eight people have died in the disaster – but some locals have bravely tackled the blaze head on.
The fires, which continue to rage in parts of Turkey, have caused entire villages and beaches to be evacuated across almost 40 of Turkey’s 81 provinces.
This adds up to approximately 10,000 people.
As of Tuesday, firefighters have taken control of 147 out of 156 fires with more than 5000 personnel helping, according to a government spokesman.
But, frustrated locals in the town of Marmais ended up trying to control the flames on their doorstep on Monday.
They furiously told reporters about the lack of planes and helicopters which have not yet come to their aid even though the fires had already been burning for five days.
In 40 degrees Celsius, the Turkish flames have been difficult to extinguish due to the low humidity and high winds.
Local resident Gulhan gestured to her efforts against the burning forests, and said: “This cannot be done without aerial support my friend, what can we do?”
Speaking to Reuters, she continued: “For God’s sake, this cannot work without a helicopter.
“What are we supposed to do, fly in the air? You see this, we are here as the entire village, locals and others.
“We didn’t run away or anything so the government must see this and also not run away, it must send some of its planes here.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to help those affected rebuild their lives, but he has faced ongoing criticism over Turkey’s level of preparation for such an event.
The public have blamed him for the lack of firefighting aircrafts in the country, only for Erdogan to tell citizens: “The main reason for these issues with planes is that the Turkish Aeronautical Association has not been able to update its fleet and technology.”
Turkey did activate a disaster response scheme in a plea for international help when the fires worsened.
The EU has sent three specialists planes to help fight the overwhelming blaze, from Croatia and Spain.
Erdogan also said aircrafts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Ukraine are now involved in the operation.
Yet, the Turkish government is far from in the clear over its handling of the crisis.
The European Forest Fire Information Service’s findings showed there were three times as many fires compared to previous years over the last 12 months, raising questions as to why they did not have enough of their own firefighting planes before the blazes began last week.
Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun took on the online criticism of the Turkish government, tweeting: “Our Turkey is strong. Our state is standing tall.”
He also spoke out against the “fake news” supposedly circling online, while the Turkish media watchdog RTUK has today warned reporters to stop “sapping the morale” of fire crews by focusing on the fires which are yet to be tackled.
Meanwhile, the #Turkeyisburning hashtag on TikTok has reached 42.2 million views.
There was further outrage two days ago after videos emerged online which appeared to show Erodogan throwing boxes of tea out of his car window while visiting one of the disaster zones towns, Manavgat.