Thousands of people in southern and western Turkey have already been forced to leave their homes. “There are a lot of people who have had to sleep with their families because of the fires,” Deniz says. “Many farmers have been affected. Their animals are lost, their homes are lost and their land is lost. Now they are without income.”
Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Iran and Azerbaijan have sent firefighters and fire engines to the affected areas. But according to Deniz, there is a lot of resentment over the way the Turkish authorities handled the fires. “People here are shocked and sad,” he says. “They feel helpless and the Turkish government does not support them well.” Many are angry that the fires are only put out by helicopters, not by firefighting planes.
On a visit to the affected area near Marmaris, President Erdogan said, yesterday, that there are a lot of firefighting vehicles and personnel working. Turkish state media reported today about “strenuous efforts” by the authorities to put out the fire. But according to Deniz, the authorities could have done much more. Erdogan did not express sympathy on television, he only said that Turkey is doing a good job putting out the fires.
The authorities are investigating the intent
There was also an uproar in the country about the cause of the fires. Experts point out the weather conditions: the constant Mediterranean heat, strong winds and drought are a dangerous combination. The consequences of this are also visible in neighboring Greece: hundreds of firefighters are putting out fires near the Peloponnese peninsula.
But the Turkish authorities are investigating whether there was any intent. Some politicians and pro-government media suggest that the PKK is behind the forest fires, although there is no evidence for this.
Deniz hears another theory around him. “Some people think it’s the governments that are causing the fires so that hotels can be built on that land.” Deniz himself does not know exactly. “People are confused. But for all the nature that is now gone, green should return, it should only return.”
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