Wildfires rage on in Turkey as eight lives have been reportedly lost over the past week, along with thousands of residents and tourists evacuated. Hundreds of wildfires have broken out across the country as a result of an extreme heat wave currently engulfing southeastern Europe including Greece and Italy.
What is Happening?
- Turkey has been battling wildfires for the six consecutive days following a heat wave that has swept over southern Europe and other parts of the Mediterranean over the past few days.
- Eight people have reportedly died as a result of the blazes that have engulfed the country.
- Temperatures have been progressively rising in the region, hitting nearly 45 °C, as the heat wave arrived over the Mediterranean and the Balkan peninsula.
- The country is in the grips of a historic heat wave, one which was similarly experienced in the west coast of Canada and US, as well as Siberia, earlier this year in June and July.
- Wildfires have reportedly already burned down 95,000 hectares of land, including 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of pine and olive groves in the western region of the country. The intensity of this year’s wildfires are at its worst for at least a decade, where previous averages have been recorded to be around 13,516 hectares in the years between 2008 and 2020.
- Many tourists holidaying in the southwestern region of Turkey have been evacuated as 100 separate blazes broke out near resorts and villages on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
- The EU has planes and air tankers sent to the country to help dealing with ongoing wildfires, as well as firefighter support from countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Croatia.
- The neighbouring country of Greece is also suffering from similar conditions that have seen houses destroyed and more than a dozen people hospitalised. Villages near Athens, the country’s capital, were also evacuated. The country is currently facing its worst heat wave since 1987, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
- Many villages have lost homes, properties and livestock as a result of the wildfires.
- Likewise, Italy has experienced more than 800 flare-ups over the August 1 weekend, including popular tourist areas.
- Many experts have warned that this will be most intense heat wave of the year – possibly one that hasn’t been experienced in many years in parts of the continent – and is “expected to intensify even more” with record-breaking high temperatures peaking up to 47 °C in the next few days.
Featured image by EO Photographer: Justin Sullivan