For the sixth consecutive day, firefighters are battling to control the blazes that are tearing through forests near Turkey’s beach destinations.
Fed by strong winds and scorching temperatures, the fires that began on Wednesday have left eight people dead.
Residents and tourists have fled vacation resorts in flotillas of small boats or convoys of cars and trucks. Many villagers have lost their homes and farm animals and have had trouble breathing amid the heavy smoke.
Overall, some 10,000 people have been evacuated in Mugla province alone, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Monday.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Twitter that crews were still tackling nine fires in the coastal provinces of Antalya and Mugla that are popular tourist areas. Other active fires were in the provinces of Isparta, Denizli, Izmir and Adana.
Another fire in Tunceli, in southeast Turkey, was contained on Monday, the minister said earlier. In all, 137 fires that broke out in over 30 provinces since Wednesday have been extinguished.
“We are going through days when the heat is above 40C, where the winds are strong and humidity is extremely low,” Pakdemirli said. “We are struggling under such difficult conditions.”
Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said on Monday that some tourists were able to return to their hotels after the threat dissipated.
The EU said it helped mobilise firefighting planes from Croatia and Spain to help Turkey. Planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran have also been fighting the blazes. Spain said it was sending two water-dumping aircraft and one transport plane as well as 27 soldiers to help.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has also been widely criticised for failing to purchase state-of-the-art firefighting planes.
The health minister, Fahrettin Koca, said at least 27 people affected by the fires were still being treated in hospitals while hundreds of others had been treated and released.
Soylu, the interior minister, said authorities were investigating the cause of the fires, including human “carelessness” and possible sabotage by outlawed Kurdish militants. He said one person was detained over allegations that he may have been paid by the group to start a fire.
Experts, however, mostly point to climate change as being behind the fires, along with accidents caused by people. Erdogan has said one of the fires was started by children.
A heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from North Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean, including in Italy and Greece, where people had to be evacuated by sea to escape the flames.