Greece wildfires fueled by heat wave, causing more evacuations

lames rise as a wildfire burns near the village of Vati, on the island of Rhodes, Greece, July 25, 2023. Nicolas Economou/Reuters

Following additional nocturnal evacuations due to flames that have been raging out of control for days, Greece saw its third consecutive heat wave on Tuesday, which raised temperatures back above 40 C (104 F) in many areas of the nation.

Corfu and Evia received the most recent evacuation orders, while a fire on Rhodes continued to spread inland, burning hilly wooded areas, including a portion of a nature reserve.

While firefighting planes and helicopters continued water drops at dawn, desperate locals, many of whom were wearing damp towels around their necks to ward off the sweltering heat, used shovels to push back flames approaching their homes.

More than 20,000 people, mostly tourists, were reportedly evacuated from the island in succession over the weekend as a fire spread over two coastal regions on Rhodes' southeast coast.

Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and other nations have also offered assistance, in addition to the 500 firefighters, 100 vehicles, and 7 planes deployed by the European Union and its 10 member states.

We have been battling forest fire fronts 24/7 for the past 12 days in sweltering temperatures and heavy winds. According to Vassilis Kikilias, the minister for climate change and civil protection, the Greek Fire Service has put out more than 500 fires, or more than 50 a day.

Authorities in Athens reinstated the ancient Acropolis' afternoon closing hours as part of broader efforts to combat the extreme heat.

EU officials note that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire destruction on record after 2017, attributing the increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires to climate change.

Publish : 2023-07-25 23:48:00

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