Faulty engines on aircraft prevent use in containing forest fires - Turkish forestry minister
Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli has said faulty motors in aircraft belonging to the Turkish Air Forces have prevented their use in putting out forest fires in the country’s Aegean coast, where some 500 hectares (over 1,200 acres) of land have been destroyed since Sunday.
Huge wildfires, which began in İzmir province’s Karabağlar district, have ravaged thousands of acres of land near popular holiday resorts, including two in the southwestern Mugla province and others in Izmir province.
The fires in İzmir have been contained 53 hours after they begun, however, opposition lawmakers and critics have accused the ministry of not employing all available means to put out the fires.
Pointing out that a 1,500-strong team of firefighters, 24 helicopters, 280 water tankers and 35 bulldozers are at work to get the multiple blazes under control, Pakdemirli said that six aircraft belonging to the Turkish Air Force’s (THK) were not suitable to be used in putting out the fires.
"Three of the planes have damaged motors and three of them leak oil. If anybody knows how to get them started, they can go ahead and do so,’’ independent news site T24 quoted Pakdemirli as saying.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Atila Sertel had earlier made the claim that the ministry was lying about the planes being damaged and that five were in capital Ankara and one in the town of Menderes in İzmir.
Opposition centre-right Good (İYİ) Party deputy Müsavat Dervişoğlu on Tuesday submitted a question to Parliament on the use of planes in putting out the fires.
One Twitter user reacted to Pakdemirli’s statement saying, ’Imagine a country where there are 13-14 private jets belonging to the Presidency, but not a single aircraft to put out fires.’’
‘’You ought to be ashamed to make such a statement,’’ the user added.
A luxury jet worth about half a billion dollars gifted last year by the emir of Qatar to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made headlines following speculations that it was paid for by the government.