Zarif says affected by deadly forest fires in Turkey, offers Iran’s help to contain fires

August 1, 2021 - 12:5

TEHRAN - Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday said he was saddened by the deadly forest fires in Turkey, offering that Iran is ready to provide whatever assistance needed in the efforts to contain the raging wildfires in Turkey.

“I was very affected by the fire that broke out in some parts of Turkey. We share the pain of the government and people of Turkey and we will stand by them,” Zarif tweeted.

“May God have mercy on the deceased, I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he added.

“Our prayers and opportunities will be at the service of our brothers in Turkey,” Zarif underlined.

Also on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced Tehran’s solidarity with the brotherly country of Turkey and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

At least four people have been killed in southern Turkey as forest fires raged near tourist coastal regions for a third day.

Firefighters were still tackling wildfires in six provinces in Turkey’s Mediterranean and southern Aegean region, Turkey's Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said.

But authorities say the majority have been brought under control.

More than 50 others wildfires that broke out since Wednesday amid strong winds and scorching heat were extinguished.

The worst fires hit the Manavgat and Akseki regions in Antalya province, where an 82-year-old man and a married couple died. More than 50 people were hospitalized and at least 25 villages or districts were evacuated.

Images showed flames briefly threatening holiday homes and beach resorts near the town of Bodrum, where some guests were evacuated by boat.

More than 4,000 firefighters, assisted by helicopters and planes, are trying to bring the fires under control. The Russian embassy also said on Thursday that three water bombers were assisting in the firefighting operations.

Azerbaijan has also sent 500 emergency workers, helicopters and other equipment to help. Neighboring Greece and France have also offered help.

Janez Lenarcic, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said on Friday that the bloc is "following the wildfires on Turkey's Mediterranean and Aegean coasts with great concern."

"I am conveying my condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones."

"We stand ready to help," he added.

The mayor for Marmaris said he couldn’t rule out "sabotage" as a cause for the fire there. In other provinces, authorities declared a ban on people entering forests in a bid to prevent more fires.

Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months.

According to The New York Times, the blazes are part of a broader pattern of wildfires afflicting the Mediterranean this summer, with areas in Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Italy and Cyprus also battling fast-moving fires.

They are also the latest in a series of extreme weather events around the planet — from deadly floods in Europe and China to raging fires in the United States, Canada, and Siberia — that scientists believe are linked to changes in the climate resulting from global warming.

Cagatay Tavsanoglu, a biology professor specializing in fire ecology at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, said fires in the Mediterranean basin are an annual occurrence, but the extent of the blazes this year should serve as a warning.

“Many fires could not be put out, and with the influence of dry winds, burning happened too fast,” Tavsanoglu said. “It is just the first indications of what climate change would do to the Mediterranean region in the future.”

Lebanese firefighters struggled for the second day on Thursday to contain wildfires in the country’s north that have spread across the border into Syria, civil defense officials in both countries said.

The fires killed at least one person, a 15-year-old boy, who was helping firefighting efforts in Lebanon, The Globe and Mail reported.

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