ISTANBUL - Reuters
Strong winds Sunday hampered firefighters' efforts to bring under control a major forest fire that has devastated 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of woodland in Turkey's tourism heartland, state Anatolia news agency reported.
A forestry official said he believed that by the end of the day firefighting teams would have control of the fire, described by one official as the worst the province of Antalya had ever faced.
One person has died and another is missing in the blaze, which has also destroyed 60 houses and endangered historical sites, including the ancient Greek amphitheater in Aspendos, 37 kilometers from the Mediterranean coastal resort of Side.
More than 2,000 people have been involved in fighting the fire, now in its fourth day. They are backed by more than a dozen aircraft seeking to douse the flames engulfing the region's woodland.
"The weather was in our favor last night, but the wind flared up again this morning. Despite this we will have the fire totally under control today (yesterday)," said Mustafa Kurtulmuşlu, deputy general manager of the Forestry Directorate.
He said firefighters were still extinguishing fires in five areas of Antalya focused in the Manavgat and Serik districts, where six villages have been evacuated.
Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said Saturday that officials thought the blaze was sparked by the snapping of power lines. However, state power officials said this was not possible, private news channel CNN-Türk reported.
Antalya has some of the richest remains of Greek civilization in Turkey and is the nation's top tourist destination, receiving about 7 million tourists each year, mostly during the summer period.