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Wildfires chase tourists to beach to await rescue

by The Associated Press | August 1, 2021 at 4:52 a.m.
A man watches wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)

ISTANBUL -- Panicked tourists in Turkey hurried to the seashore to wait for rescue boats Saturday after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean Sea resort of Bodrum as wildfires raged nearby, Turkish media outlets reported.

Coast guard units led the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires flared. A video showed plumes of smoke and fire enveloping a hill close to the seashore.

The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.

The Russian news agency Sputnik said more than 100 Russian tourists had been evacuated from Bodrum and moved to new hotels.

In one video of the Bodrum fire filmed from the sea, a man helping with the evacuations was stunned at the speed of the fire, saying "this is unbelievable, just unbelievable. How did this fire come [here] this fast in 5 minutes? " He was not named in the video.

The minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said Saturday that 91 of the 101 fires stoked by strong winds and scorching heat have been brought under control. Neighborhoods affected in five provinces were declared disaster zones.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover the rents for people affected by the fire and rebuild their homes. He said taxes, social security and credit payments would be postponed for those affected and small businesses would be offered credit with zero interest.

"We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost, but we can replace everything that was burned," he said.

Erdogan said one of the fires there had been started by children and other investigations were ongoing.

A wildfire that broke out Saturday in western Greece forced the evacuation of four villages and people on a beach by the fire service, the coast guard and private boats, authorities said.

The fire was in a mountain forest 19 miles east of Patras, Greece's third-largest city, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said late Saturday. Aided by strong winds, the fire raced down the slopes and threatened seaside villages.

Media outlets reported that some villagers refused to leave and were trying to fight the fire with garden hoses.

Firefighters said the fire was a large one, advancing on several fronts, although winds had abated somewhat.

Chrysochoidis said that 290 firefighters were battling the fire, along with eight planes, seven helicopters and a fire service boat, which helped evacuate people on the beach and others trapped by the fire near the sea.

Some 56 wildfires have broken out in the past 24 hours in Greece, aided by dry weather, a heat wave and strong winds..

Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily on Saturday battled dozens of wildfires fueled by temperatures topping 113 degrees Fahrenheit, prompting the region's governor to request assistance from Rome.

Some 150 people trapped in two seaside areas in the city of Catania were evacuated late Friday by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to coast guard boats.

Regional Gov. Nello Musumeci told reporters that some fires appeared to have been caused by arsonists, while others had natural causes as temperatures hit record levels.

Information for this article was contributed by Zeynep Bilginsoy, Demetris Nellas, Andreas Alexopoulos, Costas Kantouris, Robert Badendieck and Colleen Barry of The Associated Press.

A helicopter pours star on wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A helicopter pours star on wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A man watches wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A man watches wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
People watch wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
People watch wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A woman looks at the wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.(AP Photo)
A woman looks at the wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.(AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A man walks toward wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A man walks toward wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A woman tries to stop an advancing wildfire in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
A woman tries to stop an advancing wildfire in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)
An aerial photo shows wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, July 31, 2021. The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey's Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country's health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday burned down forests, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate. (AP Photo)

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