Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, October 27, 2021

World

Firefighters battling 16 wildfires in Turkey, power plant at risk

By Mert Ozkan

MILAS, Turkey (Reuters) -Firefighters were battling 16 wildfires across Turkey on Wednesday, including one near a coal-fired power station, with high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds fanning the flames.

In the past eight days, 167 fires have been brought under control, Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said. On Tuesday night he said 11 fires were still burning, but further blazes had broken out.

Eight people have been killed in the worst wildfires in years and thousands evacuated, including tourists. Many of the fires broke out near major resorts along the south coast.

A blaze near a coal-fired power plant east of Bodrum in southwest Turkey was still burning, local authorities said, after declaring the blaze under control hours earlier.

“A fire broke out again near Kemerkoy power station,” the Milas mayor’s office said.

Environmentalists are concerned about the plant’s coal storage unit and air pollution if fire reaches the facility.

“Authorities refrain from informing the public about the scale of the threat. Harmful gases could spread to the atmosphere if coal burns in an uncontrolled way,” environmental activist Deniz Gumusel said.

Tanks with flammable materials at the plant were emptied as a precaution, a reporter with Demiroren news agency said, and ditches had been dug as firebreaks.

While most fires have been extinguished, local officials, many of them from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have complained that the government response has been slow or inadequate.

Firefighting planes from Spain and Croatia joined teams from Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan this week to battle blazes, after Turkey requested European support.

Opposition parties criticised President Tayyip Erdogan and his government for depleting firefighting resources over the years. Thousands also took to social media calling for Erdogan to step down, while others criticised the lack of resources and what they called inadequate preparations.

The government has defended its response to the wildfires, saying its efforts have been planned and coordinated.

(Addional reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans and Janet Lawrence)

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