Roaring blazes encircled a Turkish thermal power plant and forced farmers to herd panicked cattle toward the sea, as wildfires that have killed eight people raged for a seventh day.
The nation of 84 million has been transfixed in horror as the most destructive wildfires in generations erase pristine forests and rich farmland across swaths of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
Tourists have been forced to escape on boats for safety and dozens of villages have been evacuated as wild winds and soaring heat fan the flames.
Eyewitnesses said they saw farmers pulling their screaming animals out of burning barns and shepherding them to the relative safety of the beach in the Aegean city of Hisaronu.
“The fire happened in an instant,” local farmer Mevlut Tarim said after managing to pull some of his panicked herd through pitch-black smoke and patches of burning turf encircling his farm.
“One of my cows died. It burned,” he added. “I had never seen anything like it. You can’t even call it a fire. It was really like a bomb.”
Officials in neighbouring Greece have blamed two blazes on the island of Rhodes and the Peloponnese peninsula on a record heatwave they link to climate change.
Hundreds of firefighters, water-bombing planes and helicopters were battling forest fires near Athens, that have already forced the evacuation of villages and closed a section of the main motorway there.
In south and central Albania, a heat wave sparked dozens of forest fires over the last week, with the first death reported on Tuesday.
A 64-year-old man died and his wife was seriously injured when they were trapped by a forest fire around their home in the southern region of Gjirokastra, near the Greek border, said police.
Power station threatened Temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius across the south of Turkey have set off a record surge in electricity use that caused power outages on Monday in cities such as Ankara and Istanbul.—Agencies