Turkey has been battling the worst fires in at least a decade, ravaging forests and farmland, as well as populated areas on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. In the south of the country, in Milas, the thermal power station could be among the next victims of the progression of these flames.
“If we cannot stop the fire with an aerial intervention (…), it will head towards the thermal power station. The situation is very serious ”, the mayor of Milas, Muhammet Tokat, was alarmed on Monday August 2 in the evening, in a video he shared on Twitter. Tuesday morning, the fire was still not controlled and exceeded, according to Mr. Tokat, “The critical point”.
Frightened tourists and villagers were evacuated by boat as high winds and heat spread the flames. Temperatures above 40 ° C in several cities in Turkey also caused a record increase in electricity consumption, leading to blackouts on Monday in major cities like Ankara and Istanbul.
Lack of water bombers
Of the 145 fires that broke out in one week across the country, nine are still active. The European Union sent three water bomber planes, two from Spain and one from Croatia, to help Turkey fight the fires. Prior to the announcement of EU aid, Turkey had borrowed planes from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Iran.
But the country has felt the consequences of the gradual disappearance of its own fleet of Canadairs in recent years. The main opposition party, the CHP (Republican People’s Party, Social Democrat), accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having dismantled the infrastructure of a semi-public organization which in the past held water bombers and who was responsible for fighting fires.
“I’m going to cry with rage”, Mr. Tokat tweeted on Tuesday, who had asked during his numerous televised interventions that a bomber plane be directed towards Milas, in vain. Elected from the CHP, Mr. Tokat is one of a growing number of voices critical of Mr. Erdogan, because of the way the latter has handled the crisis.
Anger of many Turks
The president also angered many Turks on social media for throwing tea bags at confused residents as he visited the affected town of Marmaris with a heavy police escort last weekend.
Faced with growing voices on social networks criticizing the government for insufficient intervention, the head of communication of the Turkish presidency, Fahrettin Altun, warned against “Fake news” which would be designed to give the impression that Turkey is ” low “.
Defense and interior ministers said they were also mobilizing forces to help the more than 5,000 firefighters tackle the disasters. Police water cannons, normally used to disperse protests, were also deployed in fire zones, Turkish police said.