Thermal power plant on Aegean Sea and residential areas emptied as deadly wildfire ravaging Turkey for the past week reaches its outer edge.
A coal-fuelled power plant in southwest Turkey and nearby residential areas have been evacuated as flames from a wildfire reached inside the plant.
Local reporters said the wildfires also prompted the evacuation of the nearby seaside area of Oren.
Ahead of fire reaching the power plant in resort city Mugla's Milas district, residents were evacuated to safer areas by navy ships, Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Turkey's communications director Fahrettin Altun said all personnel at Kemerkoy power plant in Turkevleri district have been evacuated as part of safety measures.
Authorities said safety precautions have been taken at the power plant and its hydrogen tanks had been emptied and it carries no explosion risk.
The privately-run plant uses lignite to generate electricity, according to its website. It's unclear if the plant still had coal inside.
Muğla'nın Milas ilçesindeki orman yangınının bölgedeki termik santraline yaklaşması üzerine, iskelede toplanan vatandaşlarımız Deniz Kuvvetleri Komutanlığımıza ait çıkarma gemilerimizle emniyetli bölgelere tahliye ediliyor. #MSB #TSK pic.twitter.com/KDR5LVfDaO— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) August 4, 2021
As the Milas mayor announced the evacuation on Twitter, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking live on A Haber channel and said the power plant was at risk of burning.
Three ministers were there to oversee developments.
He said planes and helicopters had been there all day to fight the fires.
172 fires brought under control
Firefighters have been trying to protect the power plant for the past two days.
Along with police water cannons, they fought back the flames Tuesday night while other rescuers dug ditches around the Kemerkoy plant.
Videos from an adjacent neighbourhood in Milas showed charred, decimated trees.
Scorching heat, low humidity and strong winds have fed the fires, which so far have killed eight people and countless animals and destroyed forests in the past eight days.
Villagers have had to evacuate their homes and livestock, while tourists have fled in boats and cars. In the seaside province of Mugla, where tourist hot spot Bodrum is located, seven fires continued on Wednesday.
In Antalya, at least two fires raged on and two neighborhoods had to be evacuated.
Officials say 172 fires had been brought under control and 15 continued in five provinces. Thousands of firefighters and civilians were working to douse the flames.
Hot air from North Africa
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said another firefighting plane and its staff would come from Azerbaijan on Thursday morning and 40 firetrucks would drive to Turkey to help with the fires.
He announced four rented firefighting planes had landed and two from Israel would come Thursday.
A heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from North Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean, including in Italy and Greece.
Temperatures in Marmaris reached an all-time high of 45.5 C on Tuesday.
The heat wave is forecast to continue in Turkey and Greece until the end of the week.
"Forest fires are an international threat just like the Covid-19 pandemic," President Erdogan said.
"Like elsewhere in the world, there has been a big increase in the forest fires in our country. There should be no room for politics here," he said while criticising "misinformation" campaign by opposition parties.
The European Union's satellite monitoring service said their "radiative power" –– a measure of the fires' intensity –– "has reached unprecedented values in the entire dataset, which goes back to 2003".