Thursday, September 16

Heat wave and fires on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean

Heat wave and fires on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.

Heat wave and fires on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.

Almost 200 fires in just one week: this is the balance of the fires that, during the last days, are stoking the southwest of Turkey, on its shore Mediterranean. On the other side, in Greece, the fires are counted by dozens. In Sicily, in the south of ItalyThere have also been about a hundred fires this last week, although of less size and intensity.

But all this counting has not ended because at Eastern mediterranean A new heat wave is approaching this Tuesday, adding to the one that already suffocated its inhabitants last week. In southern Turkey and in much of Greece, where most of the fires are concentrated, this Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures will exceed the 46 degree centigrade. The last time it rained in the region was three months ago. The chances of more fires are huge.

International aid has gradually reached Turkey. This Monday, Croatia I send a seaplane, and this Tuesday they have arrived two Spanish seaplanes. In addition, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Romania have also pledged to send aid. To date, eight people in Turkey have died from these fires, which have affected mainly areas of beach and vacation tourism.

“As a result of our efforts, most of the fires are now under control, and nine are still active. Our institutions continue to work in coordination with regions in crisis,” said Turkish government spokesman Fahrettin Altun before the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presided over a crisis cabinet on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Turkish emergency services. “We thank all the countries that help and have offered us their condolences in our fight against the flames,” Erdogan said.

Who was it?

During this last week, the intensity of the fires and their regularity – several fires were declared a day – has been so high that many Turks have launched themselves in search of miscellaneous reasons and conspiracy theories to explain the enormity of what was happening. The theory that has had the longest run has been the one that ensures that members of the Kurdoturk PKK guerrilla, in conflict with Turkey since the 1980s, is who is behind the flames.

Even pro-government media and those related to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have fed this theory, without proof. Paranoia has reached such a high point that several inhabitants of the burning provinces have raised checkpoints on the roads to monitor who accesses.

Firefighters manage to control a fire in Greece. EFE

What is true, however, is that this wave of fires in Turkey is the most serious of the last two decades in the country and comes in a fatal year for the environment in a territory that seems to be especially susceptible to climate change. So far in 2021, in a few months, Turkey has experienced everything: the appearance of sea mucus in Istanbul due to the pollution of the marmara sea and high temperatures in spring, floods with several deaths in the coastal areas of the Black Sea, the death of thousands of flamingos as a salty lake in the center of the country dries up, the appearance of holes in the ground in the region of Konya because of the drought and now the fires.

At this time, this Tuesday, the fires are concentrated, above all, in the provinces of Mugla and Antalya, world famous as tourist resorts, and where about a dozen towns, some coastal, have had to be evacuated.

This is where the two Spanish planes are working, and they have some peculiar firefighting partners: to accompany the fire trucks on the ground, the Turkish police have sent several riot armor equipped with water cannons. When these vehicles throw water at the protesters, most of the time, the police spice the water with pepper spray. Presumably they haven’t done it this time, with the fire.

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