Erdoğan visits disaster area, throws packs of tea at wildfire survivors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the southwestern vacation town of Marmaris on Saturday to carry out inspections in the area devastated by the wildfires that have raged for several days.

Erdoğan spoke to his supporters from atop a campaign bus, and after his speech the president started to throw packs of black tea into the crowd.

“As we inspected the efforts in Manavgat in situ, we also shared with our nation the steps we will take to tend to our citizens’ wounds,” Erdoğan said as he declared disaster zones for areas affected by raging forest fires in several provinces along the Turkish Riviera and the rest of the Mediterranean coast.

In another video shared by social media users on the same night, Erdoğan is seen hurling packs of tea at bystanders as his motorcade drives through the city.

Erdoğan’s gifts were not well received by Turkish social media users, who started a hashtag that reads “take your tea and go”.

“The people suffering this pain had tea thrown at their heads,” one user wrote, posting photos of firefighters tending to their own wounds, a firefighter who lost his life, and several images from the fires themselves.

Erdoğan was also criticised for conducting his inspection from the presidential plane and not touching ground.

“When will the esteemed president start throwing tea from airplanes, I wonder,” wrote one user, captioning a photo of Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli speaking to Erdoğan as they flew over the burning area.

The fires started on Wednesday and in several areas have already reached residential zones. Many of the more than 100 fires have been taken under control, however, at least five fires continue to rage in the Antalya and Muğla provinces. Six people have lost their lives, while several villages and neighbourhoods were evacuated to avoid more casualties.

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