TURKEY – Gendarmerie forces arrested seven Russian tourists Monday on charges of causing a forest fire in the southern Turkish province of Antalya. The tourists allegedly set up a campfire in a forested area and paved the way for the massive blaze, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.
The forest fire had erupted in the Konyaaltı district of Antalya Oct. 23 and was put out by firefighters in a short time. The local gendarmerie investigation team received a tipoff about a group of campers who were at Sivri Dağ, a mountainous location where the fire started, who had set up a campfire. The campers turned out to be the seven suspects. The suspects were taken to the courthouse Monday and the judge ordered their arrest on charges of causing the fire.
Antalya has witnessed the worst wildfires in its history last August when a massive blaze that started in Manavgat district in late July spread further to other districts. More fires followed in other districts, as well as in neigboring Muğla. At least eight people were killed in the fires, which destroyed vast swathes of forests and entire villages. Fires were aggravated by extreme temperatures stemming from the climate crisis while several suspects accused of starting the fires were detained. Overall, the country witnessed an unprecedented surge in forest fires starting from the last week of July. It took around two weeks for authorities to put out all 240 wildfires that had gripped the country and grabbed headlines. Soaring temperatures, low humidity and strong winds prolonged the fires.
The Mediterranean province is the most popular among Russian tourists. Thousands have descended into the province earlier this summer after Moscow lifted a Turkish flight ban due to the coronavirus pandemic.