AKP municipal council member laughs as mayor describes fire tragedy

An AKP municipal council member was slammed for laughing as he listened to the mayor talking about the tragedy that unfolded during wildfires. "What's there to laugh about?" thousands asked Serhat Demir.

Duvar English 

A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) municipal council member has drawn ire for laughing when listening to Antalya Mayor Muhittin Böcek's speech on the tragedy that took place because of the wildfires in the province. 

During a municipal council meeting on Aug. 3, Böcek, who is from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), described the tragic scenes caused by the ongoing fires that he witnessed in the Gündoğmuş district, saying that "Flames were everywhere." 

"I was there with my firefighting team and 28 firefighting vehicles. There were flames everywhere. People were looking for others to cry with some 150 meters away from our municipal building," Böcek said. 

"When we said 'We are burning,' we actually were. There were only two helicopters there," he added. 

Serhat Demir, an AKP member, apparently found Böcek's remarks amusing, as he was seen laughing when listening to his speech. 

Böcek has repeatedly called on the government to provide aerial assistance in the face of the fires that continued spreading for days. 

"We are in Gündoğmuş. The fire has reached residential areas. I'm begging you to send planes, helicopters here. I'm calling on all authorities," Böcek said on Aug. 2 in utter helplessness. 

Authorities say more than 150 wildfires have erupted in the last week across southwestern Turkey, the worst outbreak in years, fanned by hot summer temperatures, low humidity and strong winds. Eight people have been killed and thousands evacuated, including tourists.

Most of the fires have been extinguished but local officials, many of them from the CHP, have complained that the government response has been slow or inadequate.