A document that was presented to the Environment and Urbanization Ministry revealed local authorities' plans to construct a mine in a forest area that burned for two days.
In the document dated Sept. 30, the governor's office of the southern Hatay province said that a chromium mine construction will be carried out and an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) meeting is scheduled to be held on Oct. 12, daily Birgün reported on Oct. 10.
The mine will be constructed by Krommer Mining Company, the document said.
A massive fire broke out in Hatay's Belen district on Oct. 9 and was brought under control on Oct. 10 after over 30 hours. Footage on social media showed residents fleeing their homes in Belen, Arsuz and İskenderun districts.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Oct. 10 that an investigation was launched into the incident and four suspected arsonists were detained.
Pakdemirli said seven apartments, 11 homes, 14 businesses, eight factories, four vehicles, three warehouses and 35 beehives were damaged in the fire, with a total of 70 people affected.
Firefighters were also battling to contain another forest fire in the southern Osmaniye and Maraş provinces.
Arsuz, Belen ve İskenderun’daki yangınlar iki günün sonunda kontrol altına alındı. pic.twitter.com/bPL2roa0zn— Arsuz Belediyesi (@ArsuzBelediyesi) October 10, 2020
While the cause of the massive fire remains unknown, the governor's office on Oct. 9 said the fire was caused by an explosion in a power transmission unit and that some residential areas were being evacuated.
Durum fena— jehan barbur (@barburjehan) October 9, 2020
İskenderun Anemon otel civarı pic.twitter.com/Z9Q3LI7JxY
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said that those responsible for the fire "will be found as soon as possible."
Commenting on the fires, the head of a village in the Arsuz district said that the forests are being destroyed to construct mines.
"Southern parts were burned two weeks ago and now the northern parts. We don't accept destruction of nature here. Mines are threatening our forests, plants, lives and drinking water," Hüyük village head Rıdvan Ani told Birgün.
"We are against this mine. The people of this area will do whatever it can to protect our living space," he added.