Turkey has issued an international appeal for help as it battles its second week of wildfires which have decimated several of its coastal towns.

This has followed a record-breaking heat wave, fed by hot air from North Africa, which has swept across Southern parts of Europe and the Mediterranean.

According to multiple reports 8 people have been confirmed dead, 47 hospitalised and thousands more displaced from their homes, as at least 120 separate fires ravaged the country. 

The fires, which began in the popular tourist destination of Manavgat in the Antalya Province, spread rapidly on July 28th, affecting at least 40 of the 81 provinces and have resulted in mass evacuations of residents and holiday makers alike via boats deployed by the Turkish coast guard.

The wildfire was fed by unusually hot weather for the region, with temperatures 5 to 6 degrees higher than the August average. 

Although mostly under control as of Wednesday, firefighters are still battling flames in areas along the Aegean coast such as Mugla, which has seen some of the worst of the heat with temperatures reaching a record 45.5 C. 

Official data showing nearly 95,000 hectares of land have been destroyed already this year in Turkey compared to an average of 13,516 at the same point from the years 2008-2020, making the wildfires some of the most devastating seen by the country in decades.

Whilst common during this time of year, experts agree that this year’s wildfires are bigger than usual, joining an alarming list of record breaking fires which have occurred over the previous few years, including the Australian and Californian wildfires of 2020. 

The exact cause of the wildfires remains unknown, with some suspecting arson, however many experts are pointing towards increasingly extreme weather conditions exacerbated by climate change and warn that these types of wildfires could become more common in the foreseeable future.     

This blistering heat-wave is also being felt elsewhere in Southern Europe as countries like Italy experience their own bouts of wildfires and abnormally high temperatures..

The head of Italy’s civil protection, Fabrizio Curcio, has issued a warning of the severe impact the heatwave has had already in the southern regions of Sicily and Puglia, saying that they had received 33% of calls for help extinguishing fires within the last week alone. 

“We have had difficult years in our history in the fight against wildfires, but this year will likely be the worst.” 

Several Go Fund Me pages have been established, as well as a Wildfire Relief Fund set up by Turkish Philanthropy Funds whose donations go directly to non-profits providing food and medical supplies to people and animals..  

With the extreme weather set to last until at least next week, it’s vital that these areas receive the aid that they need so that the people affected by the fires can begin to rebuild their lives. 

Photo via unsplashed

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