Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU sent help to Turkey on Monday to assist the country fight a deadly wave of wildfires, which have claimed eight lives so far. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan face’s mounting criticism at home for his apparent slow response.
Spain and Croatia sent three Canadair firefighting planes to Turkey on Monday, all part of the rescEU, the European reserve of civil protection assets. The European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, emphasised on Sunday that the Union stands “in full solidarity with Turkey at this very difficult time”.
Lenarčič thanked all the European countries that had offered to help Turkey, noting that the EU stands ready to provide further assistance as needed.
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan was the target for a strong wave of criticism over a weekend in which he was seen tossing tea bags to locals as he visited one of the regions most affected by forest fires, while accompanied by a heavy police escort.
His government was slammed for its apparent sluggish response and then further criticised when it revealed that Turkey has no firefighting planes of its own, leaving it totally dependent on outside aid in case of severe fires.
According to the Turkish Forestry Directorate, around 105 separate fires have been recorded in 35 cities and towns since Wednesday. As of Monday, seven fires remain out of control. Most of the remaining fires are reported as being close to the southern tourist meccas of Antalya and Marmaris.
In Marmaris, AFP reporters saw flames blaze over the ridges of the forested hills near the city, with smoke from the fires contaminating and heating the local air. On Monday, emergency boats stood ready near the city’s shoreline ready to start evacuating residents should town get cut off by the spreading wildfires.