21 Jun 2024, 17:41

Five dead, dozens hurt in southeastern Turkey wildfire

KÖKSALAN, Turkey, June 21, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Five people died and dozens were hurt

when a huge wildfire swept through several villages in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey
overnight, the health minister said on Friday.

Hundreds of animals also perished in the blaze, local residents said. An AFP correspondent
saw many of their bodies lying on the ground.

Dramatic overnight images on social media showed flames raging over a large area, lighting up
the night sky.

By the morning they had left huge areas of charred and blackened land in two areas of
Diyarbakir and Mardin provinces.

"Five people died and 44 were injured, 10 seriously," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on

Seven emergency teams and 35 ambulances went to the scene, he said.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish DEM party gave a higher toll. It said on X there were "seven dead" and
criticised the government's intervention as "late and insufficient".

During the night, DEM had urged the government to send water bombers, saying fighting the
blaze from the ground was "not enough".

An AFP reporter in Koksalan village in Diyarbakir province saw around 100 animals lying
dead on the ground.

Residents told AFP around half their flock of about 1,000 sheep and goats had perished in
the blaze.

A local vet confirmed around half the flock had died, without giving a precise number, telling
AFP many others were being treated for burns.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya blamed the fire on "a stubble burn" which started late on
Thursday and spread quickly due to strong winds, affecting five villages.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said on X the public prosecutor's office had opened a probe into
the cause of the fire.

Turkey has experienced 74 wildfires so far this year, which have ravaged 12,910 hectares of
land, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

In the summer of 2021, Turkey suffered its worst-ever wildfires. They claimed nine lives and
destroyed huge swathes of forested land across its Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.

The disaster prompted a political crisis after it emerged that Turkey had no functioning
firefighting planes.

It heaped pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was forced to accept
international help.

It also prompted Ankara to push through Turkey's delayed ratification of the Paris Climate
Accord, becoming the last of the Group of 20 major economies to do so.

Experts say climate change will cause more frequent and more intense wildfires and other
natural disasters in Turkey unless measures are taken to tackle the problem.

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