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Wildfire in southwest Turkey largely under control: minister

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A wildfire in southwestern Turkey was largely contained on Wednesday, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişçi said, after scenes of burning woodland reminded Turks of blazes last year that devastated tens of thousands of hectares across the region, Reuters reported.

Aerial footage from forestry authorities earlier showed smoke billowing as fire spread through a forest in the sparsely populated area, fanned by strong winds.

Firefighters battled to extinguish the wildfire from air and land, officials said. The cause of the fire, which began around 8 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, remained unclear.

The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attracted widespread criticism over their poor response and inadequate preparedness for large-scale wildfires that ravaged the country’s southern and western coasts last summer, claiming the lives of eight people and thousands of animals, also destroying large swathes of forestland.

The harsh criticism by opposition figures and the public targeting Turkish authorities centered around Erdoğan’s inaction and the small number of firefighting planes actively used to respond to fires.

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