Some ship traffic in Dardanelles resumes as fire curbed in Turkey

  • World
  • Thursday, 24 Aug 2023

People watch from a distance as smoke billows from a wildfire in the background, in Canakkale, Turkey, August 22, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Rifat Cakmak - Onedio/via REUTERS

CANAKKALE, Turkey (Reuters) - Ship traffic resumed on Thursday in one direction in Turkey's Dardanelles Strait, its forestry minister said, as firefighters brought a major blaze in the northwest Canakkale region under control.

The strait, which links the Aegean Sea and Black Sea to the north, is a major shipping route for commodities such as oil and grains.

More than 150 ships had been halted at the north and south entrances to the Dardanelles on Wednesday evening to allow for helicopters and planes to scoop up water to douse the flames.

"We have brought the fire under control before 48 hours were up ... Our only consolation is that there has been no loss of life," Forestry Minister Ibrahim Yumakli told reporters.

Aerial vehicles will continue cooling efforts throughout the day on Thursday and ship traffic in the Dardanelles resumed in one direction, he said, without specifying which one.

Shipping agency Tribeca said northbound ships would be allowed to transit the Dardanelles after 0800 GMT on Thursday.

Helicopters and land vehicles battled after darkness fell on Wednesday to contain the fire and ship traffic resumed for several hours before being halted again just after midnight GMT.

More than 1,200 people from 11 villages have been evacuated from the path of the fire, which broke out in Cannakale province on Tuesday and was fanned by high temperatures, dry air and strong winds.

Some 90 people suffered injuries from the fire, which affected 4,080 hectares (11861.06 acres), including forest and agricultural land, authorities said. No deaths were reported.

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

(Reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan in Canakkale; writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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