Published: 17:43, August 23, 2023 | Updated: 17:43, August 23, 2023
Dardanelles shipping suspended as Türkiye battles wildfire
By Reuters

Firefighters and residents try to extinguish a fire in the city of Canakkale, northwest Türkiye, on Aug 23, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

ISTANBUL - Firefighters battled a forest fire in northwest Türkiye for a second day on Wednesday, prompting mass evacuations and causing shipping to be suspended through the nearby Dardanelles Strait.

More than 100 cargo vessels were waiting to transit the strait, which was closed until further notice to allow helicopters and other aircraft to collect water to help douse the flames, the Tribeca shipping agency said.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said more than 1,200 people from nine villages had been evacuated from the path of the fire, which broke out in the province of Canakkale on Tuesday and was being fanned by high temperatures, dry air and strong winds.

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Firefighters and residents try to extinguish a fire in the city of Canakkale, northwest Türkiye, on Aug 23, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

By Wednesday morning it has spread across around 1,500 hectares, and had been contained but not brought under control, authorities said.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said more than 1,200 people from nine villages had been evacuated from the path of the fire, which broke out in the province of Canakkale on Tuesday and was being fanned by high temperatures, dry air and strong winds

News footage showed raging flames engulfing some abandoned houses and billowing smoke in hills visible from residential areas.

Helicopters and land vehicles had worked through the night to contain the fire, which Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said had caused unspecified injuries to 83 people. No fatalities were reported.

As of 0600 GMT on Wednesday, Tribeca said 57 cargo ships were waiting to cross the Dardanelles northbound and 49 southbound.

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The strait links the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea and is a major transit route for international shipping and commodities including oil and grains.