Locals in Turkey scramble to fight the fire surrounding their village


These were the dramatic scenes as locals in southern Turkey scrambled to fight a wildfire that had surrounded their village.

Villagers in Cokertme raced to get a water hose long enough to reach the flames.

Others tried to usher their farm animals from danger.

One local resident said: “I feel very tired and helpless. We can’t do anything. Our houses are burning, our forests are burning and there is nothing we can do.”

Another said: “My house is burning! My house is burning! God please!”

For a week now Turkish firefighters have been battling to control the blazes that are tearing through forests near Turkey’s beach destinations.

Fed by strong winds and scorching temperatures, the fires that began last Wednesday have left eight people dead.

As residents lost homes and livestock, anger turned toward the government, which admitted that it did not have a usable firefighting aircraft fleet.

Opposition parties accused the government of failing to procure firefighting planes, instead spending money on construction projects that they say harm the environment.

In the village of Bozalan, in Mugla province, where homes and olive groves were incinerated, residents complained that the government’s response was inadequate.

“Our fire-extinguishing helicopters were insufficient,” said 58-year-old Mahmut Sanli. “Our homes burned down. If there was a firefighting crew in our neighbourhood, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Nevzat Yildirim, 30, said he had called authorities in Mugla pleading for help but “nothing came”.

“We tried to protect our own homes through our own means, by filling up buckets. We organised ourselves with neighbours, youths and saved our homes,” he said.

Back in Cokertme, Gulseli Karaduman was seen using a fire extinguisher to save her olive trees.

“There has been no air support, nothing. For three days we’ve been living with this helplessness,” she said.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, accused Erdogan on Tuesday of lacking a “master plan” to prevent and tackle forest fires and of ignoring warnings concerning global warming.

“If a president is incapable of devising a master plan for forest fire prevention, that president cannot prevent forest fires,” Kilicdaroglu said in a televised address. “If a president is not aware that forest fires will increase with global warming … that president cannot prevent forest fires.”

He added: ” We need to start preparing our country for new climate crises immediately. Our country is in the midst of a climate and water crisis.”

Erdogan’s government has also been accused of compromising firefighting efforts by allegedly refusing help from Western nations during the early stages of the fires. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli rejected that accusation, saying the government had only refused offers for small water-dumping planes.



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