fires rage in Turkey as anger grows over firefighting planes on the ground | Voice of America

ISTANBUL – Turkey is experiencing one of its worst forest fires in decades, with at least nine people killed on Wednesday. The Turkish government is increasingly criticized because its fleet of firefighting aircraft is out of order.

Tourists and locals use buckets to fill a tank on a van with seawater to put out an advancing fire nearby. Lemis Seper, a volunteer, said it was a desperate struggle, especially in areas inaccessible by land.

Seper said the air reinforcements are too weak. She says there are currently fires in too many places in Turkey and crews cannot respond to them.

When more than a hundred fires broke out last week in an area stretching over a thousand kilometers, Turkey had only three leased Russian firefighting planes. This compares to neighboring Greece, which has more than 20 planes to tackle the fires that are also raging on its territory.

A man extinguishes a fire at his house in the village of Semir, near Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, August 3, 2021.

Local Mayor Muhammet Tokat made an emotional appeal on social media for air support to fight the fires.

Tokat said the state should shoulder its responsibilities and save the people from this suffering. He said begs the authorities to send planes and helicopters to his area.

Turkey’s fleet of around 12 firefighting planes is unfit to fly. The aircraft is owned by the Turkish Aeronautical Association created by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the secular Turkish state almost a century ago.

A technician performs final checks before a firefighting helicopter takes off for a forest fire near Marmaris, Turkey, Aug.3, 2021.
A technician performs final checks before a firefighting helicopter takes off for a forest fire near Marmaris, Turkey, Aug.3, 2021.

Critics accuse the Islamist-born Turkish government of deliberately dismantling the association, an accusation denied by the leaders.

Professor of Politics and Law Istar Gozaydin has written several books on religious affairs in Turkey. She said there was hostility within the Islamist base of the ruling AKP party because the association was initially funded by the skins of animals sacrificed on the Muslim holiday of Eid.

“It stems from a historical animosity. It was a compulsory act on the part of the secular state to confiscate the financial income of these sacrificed animals because the skins have financial value. Today there is still no demands, hostility continues between religious circles in Turkey and the Turkish Aeronautical Association, ”she declared.

Designating a fleet of nearly fifty helicopters, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that there are adequate resources to fight the fires. In addition, Erdogan also said that more firefighting planes from Russia have arrived and that Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan are also sending planes.

But offers of aid from Israel and Greece have apparently not yet been accepted.

A firefighting plane from Spain drops water on a forest fire near Koycegiz, Turkey on August 4, 2021.
A firefighting plane from Spain drops water on a forest fire near Koycegiz, Turkey on August 4, 2021.

Two Spanish planes have arrived as part of EU aid. Spanish driver Juan Ramon Martinez Borrego said it will be a tough fight.

“The area is very large. We are talking about thousands and thousands of hectares. And also, one of the main problems that we have is the topography of the forest fires that we are attacking and also the high altitude,” he said. -he declares.

More firefighting planes from abroad are expected, but for some in Turkey it will likely be a bittersweet sight, given that many arriving planes are identical to Turkish planes that remain out of sight. fight.


Source link

Comments are closed.