Dozens of panicked tourists and locals were evacuated by boat in Italy and Turkey as forest fires raged in both nations over the weekend.
Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily on Saturday battled wildfires fueled by high temperatures, prompting the region’s governor to request assistance from Rome.
Some 150 people trapped in two seaside areas in the city of Catania were evacuated late Friday by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.
Meanwhile, panicked tourists in Turkey hurried to the seashore to wait for rescue boats after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean resort of Bodrum due to the dangers posed by nearby wildfires, Turkish media reported.
Coast guard units were leading the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires erupted.
The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said.
Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.
The minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said Saturday that 88 of the 98 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat have been brought under control.
Neighborhoods affected by the fire in five provinces were declared disaster zones by Turkey’s emergency and disaster authority.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the area Saturday, inspecting the damage from a helicopter.
Speaking from the town of Manavgat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover the rents for people affected by the fire and rebuild their homes. He said taxes, social security and credit payments would be postponed for those affected and small businesses would be offered credit with zero 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.