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Wildfire in Turkey’s northwest injures dozens, halts maritime traffic

Dozens of people have been injured and more than 80 livestock have perished as more than a thousand residents flee the wildfire engulfing the country’s northwest.
This photograph taken on July 13, 2022, shows a firefighting helicopter carrying water over a wildfire.

ANKARA — Dozens of people have been injured and over a thousand have fled their homes as a wildfire rages for a second day in Turkey’s northwestern province of Canakkale. The death toll among livestock continues to rise. 

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday that 95 people were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation, but none of the injured was in serious condition. 

The number of evacuees reached 1,251 from nine villages on Wednesday, Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced, as emergency teams scrambled to get the fires under control. Nearly 4,000 acres have been affected by the blazes, which are being pushed by winds of nearly 45 miles per hour.

Local authorities warned residents living in other nearby areas to stay vigilant, saying strong winds in the area could lead the wildfire to spread. 

Up to 80 livestock have perished, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Ibrahim Yumakli confirmed. 

Videos circulating on social media showed emergency teams combing through the evacuated villages, trying to save livestock and pets trapped on the scene.

In televised remarks on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the nation to be more cautious. “Unfortunately, more than 90% of fires in our country are human caused. … I urge all citizens to be more careful on these summer days during which temperatures change between 40 and 50 celsius [104-122F],” he said.

Maritime traffic between Black Sea and Aegean Sea halted

Maritime traffic in the Dardanelles has been temporarily halted in both directions as of 3:15 a.m. local time to facilitate planes and helicopters fighting the wildfires, the country’s Transportation Ministry announced early Wednesday.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire. Summer wildfires are common in Turkey, but the country has been hit by a record number of wildfires over the past two months as successive extreme heat waves struck the country. 

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