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MANAVGAT, (Turkey): Turkish firefighters made progress Friday containing deadly wildfires that forced the evacuation of entire villages and Mediterranean coast hotels already reeling from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Blazes that erupted Wednesday to the east of the tourist hotspot Antalya on Turkey’s scenic southern coast have officially killed four people and injured nearly 200.

But they have also threatened to scare off tourists who had only just started to return to Turkey in what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had hoped would be a boon for the developing country’s fragile economy.

The soaring flames turned summer skies dark orange over five-star hotels and villages dotting rolling hills that have been parched by another dry summer.

They had spread by Thursday evening to the Aegean Sea on Turkey’s western coast and spanned a region stretching 300 kilometres (185 miles) and covering most of the country’s top resorts. Local resident Gulen Dede Tekin came with his family to a five-star hotel in the Mediterranean coast city of Manavgat on Thursday morning and at first thought nothing of the fires raging beyond the hills. “In the evening, we realised how serious things were when they cut off the electricity and the ventilation at the hotel,” Tekin told AFP. “This morning, we woke up to a rain of ash.” The government said 57 of the 71 fires had been contained or entirely put out by Friday morning.

“The situation is improving in all active fires,” Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli told reporters during a visit to the affected region.

But he also confirmed that Turkey no longer had a firefighting plane in its inventory and was only in the process acquiring one under orders from Erdogan.

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