Wildfire kills 11 in Turkiye’s Kurdish region

Published June 22, 2024
This handout photograph taken and released on June 21 by Turkish news agency DHA shows a burnt field after a wildfitre swept overnight through two areas between the districts of Diyarbakir and Mardin in southeastern Turkey. — ADP
This handout photograph taken and released on June 21 by Turkish news agency DHA shows a burnt field after a wildfitre swept overnight through two areas between the districts of Diyarbakir and Mardin in southeastern Turkey. — ADP

CINAR: A huge wildfire has killed 11 people and critically injured five, as it ripped through Turkiye’s mainly Kurdish southeast overnight, the health minister stated on Friday.

Hundreds of animals perished or were badly injured in the blaze, which roared across the dry landscape, sending flames into the night sky.

By morning, the fire had left huge areas of charred and blackened land, across the Diyarbakir and Mardin provinces.

“Eleven people lost their lives,” Health Minis­ter Fahrettin Koca wrote on X, adding that another 78 people sustained injuries and smoke inhalation. Of that number, five people were being treated in intensive care, he said.

Turkiye’s pro-Kurdish DEM party, which won many municipalities in the southeast in the March local elections, criticised the government’s intervention as “late and insufficient”. During the night, DEM urged the government to send water bombers, saying fighting the blaze from the ground was “not enough”.

Sheep, goats stricken

A reporter in the village of Koksalan, within the Diyarbakir province, saw around “100 animals lying dead on the ground”.

Residents told members of the press that around half their flock of about 1,000 sheep and goats had perished in the blaze. A local vet who did not want to give his name confirmed around half the flock had died, and said many of those that survived were being treated for burns.

“We don’t have very clear information on how many animals have been affected,” the vet said. “But at the moment, just under half of the survivors will have to be slaughtered because they can’t be saved.”

Seracettin Bedirhanoglu, a member of the opposition CHP party, described the images as “unbearable”, urging vets to go to the area to help treat the wounded animals.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2024

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