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Wildfire in southwest Turkey rages on, dashing hopes it was contained

Firefighters battled a wildfire in southwestern Turkey from land and air on Thursday, as hopes that the blazes were contained fizzled after they spread again due to high temperatures and windy conditions.

Scenes of burning woodland near the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris sparked fears of a repeat of last year's fires that devastated tens of thousands of hectares (acres) across the region.

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Reuters footage showed smoke billowing from hills and police water cannon vehicles helping firefighters as the blaze spread through a forest in the sparsely populated area.

Helicopters and planes dropped water on the flames throughout the day on Wednesday and authorities said they would get back out again on Thursday after pausing overnight.

The cause of the fire, which began at around 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Tuesday is not clear.

Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said on Wednesday that the fire was under control but later said it had spread again, fanned by wind and hot weather.

Some 150 people from 51 houses were evacuated as a precaution, he said, adding that some 2,600 people were working to contain the fire.

Turkey's forestry authority said that 27 helicopters and 14 planes would be involved in tackling the fire on Thursday.

Human-induced climate change is making heat waves more likely and more severe, scientists say.

Last summer's wildfires, most of which were also near Marmaris, were the most intense in Turkey on record, a European Union atmosphere monitor said last year, adding that the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hot spot.

President Tayyip Erdogan's government was criticised for being unprepared to fight the fires last year. It responded by saying the wildfires were the worst in Turkey's history.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said on Wednesday the government was “incompetent” and had not prepared for the fires since last year.

“The whole world knows how sensitive an area the Mediterranean basin is on this issue due to climate change,” Kilicdaroglu said, speaking near Marmaris.

“They'll blame the wind and not themselves,” he said.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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