The death toll from forest fires in southern Turkey rose to eight after two bodies were found on Sunday, officials said, while more people were evacuated. Official data showed that Turkey is witnessing some of the worst fires in at least a decade, with about 95,000 hectares destroyed so far this year, compared to an average of 13,516 so far this year between 2008 and 2020. The two bodies were found in the town of Manavgat in Antalya province, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter. The Turkish and German citizens died in their home, which was damaged by the fire, according to the official Anadolu Agency. Since the fires broke out on Wednesday, more than 864 people have received medical treatment, according to the health minister. On Sunday, the mayor of the Bodrum tourist municipality, Ahmet Aras, said that a number of its neighborhoods were evacuated, as the fires were set ablaze by strong winds from the nearby Milas area. He said that more than 1,100 residents were transported to another part of Bodrum on about 20 boats, as it was not possible to evacuate people by land. Residents of the city of Marmaris in Mugla province were also evacuated by boat with the help of the navy, according to the Defense Ministry. And the station “NTVN” reported that more evacuations took place in the village of Sirtkoy in Antalya province, while gray clouds of smoke covered the houses. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said 111 fires were under control, but five were still burning in Antalya and Mugla. He added that another fire was recorded in Tunceli Province (east). Temperatures are expected to remain high in the region, in line with record levels last month. The Directorate General of Meteorology recorded a score of 49.1 on July 20 in the town of Jazra. It is expected that the temperature in Antalya on Monday will reach 40 degrees Celsius. The Turkish Defense Ministry published satellite images showing the extent of the damage and charred forest areas, where smoke is still visible. Erdogan throws tea at those affected The opposition attacked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Saturday after a video showed the president throwing tea bags at residents in the affected areas. In another video, he is seen throwing tea at residents on the side of the road from a bus. “Tea! It’s unbelievable. Those without shame, without hearts too,” opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesman Faik Oztrak wrote on Twitter. The government has also been criticized for a shortage of firefighting aircraft, with Turkey having to accept help from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Ukraine. “If we don’t have planes and helicopters, we should buy them,” Bodrum Mayor Aras, who belongs to the Republican People’s Party, said in a video posted on Twitter. Erdogan stressed Saturday that Turkey has “the strongest infrastructure in the region to combat forest fires”, pledging to provide financial aid to those affected. Experts warn that climate change will do more harm to Turkey, causing more forest fires if action is not taken to tackle the problem. According to EU figures, Turkey has suffered 133 fires this year, compared to an average of 43 by this time of year between 2008 and 2020.
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