Four people have been killed along Turkey's southern coast since Wednesday, as soaring temperatures fan wildfires in the region, with the Interior Ministry probing the cause.

A firefighter tries to battle a massive wildfire that has engulfed a Mediterranean resort region along Turkey's southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on July 29, 2021.
A firefighter tries to battle a massive wildfire that has engulfed a Mediterranean resort region along Turkey's southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on July 29, 2021. (ILYAS AKENGIN / AFP)

Firefighters were battling blazes for a third day on Friday on Turkey's southern coast, where dozens of villages and some hotels were evacuated. 

Four people have now died in wildfires that erupted on Wednesday to the east of the tourist hotspot Antalya, across six provinces, killing four people and injuring nearly 200.

Television footage has shown people fleeing across fields as they watched the sky turn to orange and fires close in on their homes. Firefighters on the ground and in helicopters were fighting a blaze that killed three people in Manavgat, 75 km (45 miles) east of Antalya.

The government said 57 of the 71 fires had been contained or entirely put out by Friday morning.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a total of 45 helicopters were being used in the effort against the remaining forest fires.

"As of today, the number of planes has increased to five to six with the planes from Russia," he said, adding that Azerbaijan was also sending an amphibious plane.

"The battle against forest fires is still ongoing at 1,140 points," he said, adding that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were monitoring the situation in the region around the clock.

Erdogan also said that an investigation into the cause of the blazes in different parts of the country was ongoing. 

A PKK terror organisation-linked group has previously claimed responsibility for several major wildfires across Turkey. In a statement published on a pro-PKK website in 2019, the group said that the attacks were a response against Turkey’s counter-terror operations.

Earlier, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said three planes, nine drones, 38 helicopters, 680 firefighting vehicles and 4,000 personnel were involved in efforts to put out the flames. 

But he also confirmed that Turkey no longer had a firefighting plane in its inventory and was only in the process of acquiring one under orders from Erdogan.

READ MORE: Turkey battles forest fires raging in country's south

Soaring temperatures fan wildfires in the region

Wildfires have broken out elsewhere in the region, with more than 40 burning in Greece in the last 24 hours, fanned by winds and soaring temperatures, authorities said. On Tuesday, a blaze tore through a pine forest north of Athens, damaging more than a dozen homes before it was brought under control.

Fires also burned large swathes of pine forest in the mountainous north of Lebanon this week, killing at least one firefighter and forcing some residents to flee.

One person was found dead on Thursday in Mugla's Marmaris area, 290 km west of Manavgat. The blaze was continuing in Marmaris but residential areas were not at risk, Pakdemirli said.

Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said 27 neighbourhoods were evacuated due to the fires in Manavgat.

Some areas were evacuated in Adana and Mersin after fires began to spread around Manavgat on Wednesday, fanned by strong winds in hot weather. A hospital in Manavgat was also evacuated.

Buildings including a hotel in Marmaris were evacuated. Two separate fires broke out near residential areas in the Aegean summer hotspots of Bodrum in Mugla and Didim in Aydin province.


Turkish officials have promised to bring to account anyone found responsible for starting the wildfires.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the arrest of five people on suspicions of starting one of the blazes in the southern city of Osmaniye.

"Who started these fires," he asked in televised comments. "We, as well as our citizens, have our suspicions."

Turkey's historic rival Greece - at odds with its neighbour on a wide range of regional disputes - said it was "read to help."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies