“Why Didn’t They Intervene in Hasankeyf Fire with Helicopters?”

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The fire that broke out in the ancient city of Hasankeyf in Batman yesterday could be put out late at night. Speaking to bianet, activists from Hasankeyf have asked why helicopters were not involved in the firefighting efforts.

The fire that started in the ancient city of Hasankeyf in Batman could be extinguished late in the night (July 22). It has been reported that the fire broke out in an area which has been closed to visitors since 2010.

Speaking to bianet, activists from Hasankeyf has criticized that helicopters were not involved in the firefighting efforts.

Kızmaz: Fire might have been caused by people

Journalist Mehmet Kızmaz from the Hasankeyf Solidarity Coordination has reminded us that the area where the fire broke out is among the areas that will be opened to tourism in the future:

“The fire broke out in the vicinity of Ancient Greek Castle, where people used to live in the 1960s. In other words, that area was closed to visit. There were many artifacts there such as the Ottoman Mint.

“This area was going to be engulfed. They were thinking of opening this area to visit and do something with ships and so, like the one in Halfeti. Because, that was how they were promoting it. This area was closed with walls and wires, no one was allowed to enter.

“There were serious shortcoming in intervening in the fire. Helicopters were not involved in the intervention. It is what we criticize.”

Ayboğa: Why aren’t there helicopters in the region while they are used in the West?

Ercan Ayboğa from the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive has stated that the fire might have been caused by dry hays and stated the following:

“The rainfall was high, dry hays occupy a much larger space there, the fire might have been caused by them. There is no clear information as to how the fire started in the first place.

“The area that burned there is closed to visit. There is a company named BRJ, which is responsible for this area. The company is supposedly undertaking reinforcement works there. They are working on the construction of a harbor to be used for purposes of tourism in future.

“Two people who have sent us an email from Hasankeyf accuses this company. ‘They are responsible’, they say. There is not much concrete evidence. We are proceeding based on predictions.

“The area where the fire broke out is behind the hill, there is a cave and there are also several monuments. We think that the fire has damaged several artifacts. For instance, there are numerous historical objects of various sizes. There is a mosque from the time of Ayyubids. We have not yet known whether the mosque has come to harm or not. There is a graveyard from the Middle Ages, we think that it has come to harm as well.

“This area cannot be reached by vehicles. It can only be intervened by helicopters. While helicopters are ready to intervene in such incidents in the west, it is a shortcoming that it is not the case here.

“I am sure that there are hundreds of military helicopters in this region, two or three of them should be kept ready in case of such fires.

“We are expecting this from state institutions. Municipalities cannot afford helicopters.” (EMK/SD)

Article published in Bianet, 22.7.19, link: https://bianet.org/english/environment/210736-why-didn-t-they-intervene-in-hasankeyf-fire-with-helicopters