Panicked tourists in Turkey have hurried to rescue boats after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean Sea resort town of Bodrum due to nearby wildfires.
Key points:

  • Turkey’s death toll rose on Saturday after two forest workers were killed
  • Russian media reported about 100 Russian tourists had been evacuated from the resort town of Bodrum
  • Fires are raging in Italy and Greece, with some residents forced to flee by sea on rubber dinghies

Coast guard units led the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires erupted, Turkish media reported.
A video showed plumes of smoke and fire enveloping a hill close to the seashore.
The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six on Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s Health Minister said.
Fires across Turkey have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.
Russian news agency Sputnik said more than 100 Russian tourists had been evacuated from Bodrum and relocated to new hotels.
The Turkish government has declared neighbourhoods in five provinces disaster zones.(AP
In one video of the Bodrum fire filmed from the sea, a man helping with the evacuations was stunned at the speed of the fire, saying: “This is unbelievable, just unbelievable. How did this fire come [here] this fast in five minutes?”
He was not named in the video.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said 91 of the 101 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat had been brought under control.
The Turkish government has declared neighbourhoods in five provinces disaster zones.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some affected areas on Saturday, inspecting the damage from a helicopter.
Speaking from the town of Manavgat, Mr Erdogan announced the Turkish government would cover rent payments for people affected by the fire and rebuild their homes.
Two forest workers were killed in the fires in Turkey.(AP
He said taxes, social security and credit payments would be postponed for those affected, and small businesses would be offered credit with no interest.
“We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost but we can replace everything that was burned,” he said.
Mr Erdogan said the number of planes fighting the fires had been increased from six to 13, including planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. He said thousands of people, as well as dozens of helicopters and drones, were assisting the firefighting efforts.
In a speech from Marmaris on Saturday night, Mr Erdogan said one of the fires there had been started by children and other investigations were ongoing.
At least five people have died from the fires in Manavgat and one died in Marmaris. Both towns are Mediterranean tourist destinations.
Tourism is an important source of revenue for Turkey, and business owners had been hoping this summer would be much better than last year, when pandemic travel restrictions caused visitor numbers to plummet.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced financial relief for those affected by the fires.(AP: Turkish Presidency
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 400 people affected by the fires in Manavgat were treated at hospitals and released, while 10 others were still hospitalised for fire injuries.
In Marmaris, 159 people were treated at the hospital and one person was still undergoing treatment for burns.
In southern Hatay province, flames jumped into populated areas but were later apparently brought under control.
Boats evacuate communities in Italy, Greece
Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months.
Meanwhile, a heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean, including in Italy and Greece.
Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily on Saturday battled dozens of blazes fuelled by high temperatures, prompting the region’s Governor to request assistance from Rome.
Greece’s fire service sent a boat to help evacuate people in seaside towns.(AP: Andreas Alexopoulos
Some 150 people trapped in two seaside areas in the city of Catania were evacuated by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.
In western Greece, a wildfire that broke out on Saturday forced the evacuation of four villages and people on a beach.
The fire was in a mountain forest 30 kilometres east of Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said.
Aided by strong winds, the fire raced down the slopes and threatened seaside villages.
The Civil Protection Agency sent text messages to the residents of four villages two in the mountains and two by the sea to evacuate.
Local media said some villagers refused to leave and were trying to fight the fire with garden hoses.
Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in south-east Europe are expected to climb to 42 degrees Celsius on Monday in many cities and towns.

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