Russian firefighting plane crashes in southern Turkey

Russian defence ministry says all eight people onboard a Russian firefighting plane died when it crashed in Turkey.

Russia said all eight people onboard a Russian water-dropping plane died when it crashed in Turkey during a firefighting mission.

The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday that the Be-200 plane had crashed at about 3:10pm Moscow time (13:30 GMT) and that it carried five Russian servicemen and three Turkish citizens, Russian news agencies reported.

Turkey’s Anadolu Agency said the plane was linked to the General Directory of Forestry. Search and rescue teams were sent to the area in Kahramanmaras.

Private news agency DHA said the plane crashed as it was fighting a forest fire in the inland Bertiz region. It said the cause of the crash had not yet been identified.

Kahramanmaras Governor Omer Faruk Coskun told Anadolu that a wildfire had begun after lightning struck trees.

“We had dispatched a plane to the area but we lost communication with the plane a while ago and it crashed. The situation is very new. We dispatched many units to the area where the plane crashed,” he said.

Wildfires in Turkey’s Mediterranean region began in late July and have incinerated thousands of acres of forests, mostly in the seaside provinces of Mugla and Antalya.

Turkey’s forestry minister, Bekir Pakdemirli, said on Thursday that 299 fires had been brought under control over 16 days by firefighters, helicopters and planes.

Eight people have died in the wildfires, which came after Turkey and the whole Mediterranean region endured a prolonged heatwave.

Climate scientists say there is little doubt climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving more extreme events, such as heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms.