Istanbul, Turkey

Five people died and dozens were hurt as a huge wildfire swept through several villages in the Kurdish southeastern Turkey overnight, the health minister said Friday.

Images posted on social media showed flames raging over a large area, lighting up the night sky as vast clouds of smoke billowing into the air.

“Five people died and 44 were injured, 10 seriously,” when the blaze swept through two areas between the provinces of Diyarbakir and Mardin, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the fire started late on Thursday, when a “a stubble burn” some 30 kilometres south of Diyabakir spread quickly due to strong winds, affecting five villages.

The health minister said seven emergency teams and 35 ambulances were sent to the scene.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish DEM party in a post on X urged the authorities to “quickly intervene” to tackle the blaze from the air as it raged early on Friday.

“So far, intervention from the ground has not been enough. The authorities need to intervene more comprehensively and from the air without wasting time,” it said.

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

In the summer of 2021, Turkey suffered its worst-ever wildfires which 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, heaping 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 is set to fuel more fires and other disasters in Turkey unless measures are taken to tackle the problem.


© Agence France-Presse


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