Large forest fires broke out in Southern Turkey on Wednesday. At least three people have been killed and more than 100 injured. It erupted on Wednesday noon in four different spots in Manavgat, a town in Antalya province surrounded by forests. It did not reach the town center but affected the villages near it.
Forest fire in Turkey's Mugla
A massive forest fire erupted in Turkey’s Mediterranean coastal city of Mugla on Thursday. https://t.co/V7EVkzHdhy
📽️: Orhan Fatih Doğan pic.twitter.com/jQSwTcrUdo
— Anadolu Images (@anadoluimages) July 30, 2021
Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said 41 fires had since broken out across 13 provinces in Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts this week. Most fires have since been extinguished, but others still burn near the Mediterranean resort towns of Mersin and Alanya.
This is a map of the current fires in Turkey. The first fire was set to a forest in Antalya nearly 3 days ago, and is still going. Turkey isn’t burning, it’s being burned. Please spread awareness! #PrayForTurkey #TürkiyeYanıyor pic.twitter.com/UNTHanOKln
— BeyzaNur🍀 (@AleynaKsever) July 30, 2021
Dozens of villages as well as some hotels were evacuated, and footage showed burnt buildings and people fleeing across fields as firefighters on the ground and in helicopters tried to contain a blaze in Manavgat, east of the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.
According to sources, an 82-year-old man had been found dead during the evacuation of Kepezbeleni, 16 kilometers northeast of Manavgat, and two people were found dead in Degirmenli, 20 kilometers east of Manavgat.
Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said that 18 villages and districts had been evacuated in Antalya, along with 16 others in neighboring provinces of Adana and Mersin, as fires spread around Manavgat on Wednesday, fanned by strong winds in hot weather.
Pakdemirli also said 35 aircrafts, 457 vehicles, and 4,000 personnel are involved in firefighting efforts.
“Our struggle to contain (the fires) continues, and surely we will contain them. But this may take some time,” he said.
PKK to blame
Ever since the devastating news broke out on Twitter, Turkish nationals have been blaming The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK for deliberately causing the fires.
Wildfires across several provinces, mostly in southern Turkey, in the last few days
The PKK has carried out such attacks repeatedly over the last years, setting fire to forests in the summer pic.twitter.com/jhyg8u7fxW
— Yunus Paksoy (@yunuspaksoy) July 29, 2021
My heart is burried in those ashes, now a stone. Not a drop of mercy will be there when I get my hands on those who have done this, who shelter and aid them. Remember this. next time you read/hear about PKK/YPG in Syria & Iraq. https://t.co/ZYzdXkaIEP
— ceren yazgan (@fcyazgan) July 30, 2021
A man, PKK suspect arson attacker was arrested with setting fire to a forest near the Artillery and missile education military school in Polatli, Ankara.
The PKK has a long history of burning Turkey’s forests as a method of “vengeance” from the Turkish state and causing civilian deaths and environmental destruction in the process. They call themselves “Children of Fire”.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK is a Kurdish militant political organization, which has historically operated throughout Greater Kurdistan, but is now primarily based in the mountainous Kurdish-majority regions of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. They have been declared as a terrorist organization by Turkey, United States and European Union.
Fahrettin Altun, from the Turkish president’s office, said: “Comprehensive investigations were … launched into the cause of the fires.”
“Those responsible will have to account for the attacks against nature and forests.”
The consecutive fires have led people to raise their suspicion on PKK as the fires might be the result of a string of arson attacks.
One of the PKK’s highest-ranking members, Murat Karayılan, had previously hailed the method of using arson in terrorist attacks in a statement.
“Two or three youths may well gather and do something. They may say ‘we don’t have a weapon’ but their weapons are lighters and matches,” he said.
Another high-ranking PKK terrorist Şemdin Sakık, also previously said that PKK would resort to similar actions if the need arises. “If we run out of weapons, we will go to Bodrum and burn their yachts, go to Antalya to burn their greenhouses, go to Istanbul to burn their cars and go to Izmir to burn their forests,” he said.
PKK has also previously accepted responsibility of a similar attack in October 2020. Four provinces around Turkey fell victim to the PKK’s hatred of nature, with almost simultaneous fires destroying forests in various parts of the country. Turkish authorities were quick to detain suspected arsonists who burned forestland in southern Hatay province’s Belen district.
PKK sympathizers took to social media and further manifested their hatred of forests with jokes making fun of the fire, in a collective effort of terror propaganda and further said that PKK could bomb cities easily.
It is not true. It is a racist claim against Kurds. Most of the workers in Tourism sector are Kurds. PKK would never dare to this to against its supporters.
Instead of burning forests they could easily bomb touristic cities.. They won’t do this to Kurds
— Aro Fol (@7Tabularasa) July 29, 2021
Pakistan stands with Turkey
The hashtag #PrayforTurkey trends on Twitter in Pakistan as the country offers their condolences and prayers for the brother country.
This is really heartbreaking. Turkey is currently burning. There are fires that are burning in multiple cities.
“If you can feel pain, you are alive. If you can feel the pain of others, you are human.” Please Pray for Turkey.#PrayForTurkey pic.twitter.com/PFQGTjDXGg
— Saba Bashir (@sababashir26) July 30, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also tweeted offering his condolences support for the Turkish Government.
Pakistan shares our condolences and support to the government of Turkey and to our Turkish brothers and sisters over the loss of lives and property as a result of deadly forest fires. @MevlutCavusoglu
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) July 30, 2021
Actor Adnan Malik also took to his Instagram story to condemn the attack and wrote “when will we start taking stock that our excessive consumption habits are causing global warming? We can start by looking at our own lives and our need for excess which contributes to the greater damage.”