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Nature’s Wrath?

The vast coastal area of Greece and Turkey near the Mediterranean Sea, which divides the two countries, is on fire! The wildfires have killed at least six people in Turkey so far, although no death has been reported in Greece. However, five people have recently been hospitalised in Greece, due to serious illness caused by smoke. The fire has destroyed agricultural lands, houses, shops, and properties in residential areas in both the countries. The once-decorated townships have turned into piles of grey ash.

These quiet areas of Turkey, Greece and Italy, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, are popular tourist destinations. Tourism generates a large part of revenue in these regions. However, tourists did not visit those places in 2020, because of COVID-19 Pandemic. They, obviously, planned to visit those places in Turkey, Greece and Italy after the vaccination drive. Unfortunately, wildfires have hit the Mediterranean Economy hard in recent times.

The City of Bodrum, stretching from Turkey’s southwest coast into the Aegean Sea, is surrounded by mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The mountain has been on fire since July 28. The Local Administration immediately ordered the resorts of Bodrum to be vacated as soon as possible. Tourists were in a hurry to board the rescue boats. Later, Moscow claimed that at least 100 Russian tourists were stranded in Bodrum.

The worst affected Turkish cities are Manavgat in Antalya Province and Marmaris. At least 400 people, injured in the fire, had to be taken to hospitals in Manavgat. The number of injured in Marmaris crossed 150. Till July 31, at least 100 fire-related incidents had been reported in Turkey. Despite stormy winds, the firemen brought the fire under control in many places.

A woman tries to stop an advancing wildfire in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat

On July 31, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inspected the fire-hit areas in a helicopter. Later, he announced special grants and tax exemptions for the victims. The President told the media that investigation was on as regard to the causes of wildfires in the southern part of the country. Erdoğan stressed: “We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation’s wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities. We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost, but we can replace everything that was burned.” According to the President, the number of aircraft, as a means of aerial support in fighting the fires, has been increased from six to 13, which included planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. This is in addition to thousands of Turkish personnel, as well as dozens of helicopters and drones, which were actively assisting in the firefighting efforts.

The average temperature in Greece is now hovering between 42 and 44 degrees Celsius. On July 31, at least 56 fire-related incidents were reported in the western part of the south-eastern European country with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. A mountain just 30km from Patras, the third most populous city in Greece, was on fire. It prompted the Government to order and ensure evacuation of lives in four villages adjacent to the mountain on an emergency basis.

Labiri Village, Greece

Wildfire is common in these areas of Greece and Turkey. However, Meteorologists are worried about the number and intensity of fire this year. Apart from Greece and Turkey, several areas in Italy, Bosnia, Romania, Belgium and France are also on fire. According to Meteorologists, dry winds from Africa and Global Warming are responsible for wildfires in the southern part of Europe.

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