September 29, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Forest fires rage near Athens, and Greece sees the risk of more fires

Forest fires rage near Athens, and Greece sees the risk of more fires

ATHENS, Aug 23 (Reuters) – Greek firefighters backed by aircraft battled a wildfire raging near Athens for a second day on Wednesday, while authorities said heat and strong winds could spark more fires in a country where 20 people have already died.

Hundreds of people have evacuated their homes across the country since fires broke out in northern Greece on Saturday, fanned by high winds in the second major fire outbreak of the summer. The fire brigade said several fires were ravaging mainland Greece.

“Conditions remain difficult, and in several cases severe,” said fire brigade spokesman Ioannis Artobios. “All civil protection forces remain on alert and work to fight fires,” he added.

He added that 202 firefighters, supported by volunteers, along with 65 vehicles and 15 aircraft, some sent from Sweden and Germany, were fighting the fire about 20 km north of Athens near the village of Fili at the foot of Mount Parnitha.

The capital has been engulfed in smoke and ash since the fire broke out on Tuesday.

By Wednesday, the fire had spread towards the town of Menede, where about 150 people were evacuated by bus from three nursing homes to hotels or other care facilities.

“We have removed the fire from the houses,” Stathis Topalidis, deputy mayor of Menedi, told state radio ERT, describing the evacuation. “Unfortunately, the wind is not helping at all.”

The fire caused destruction and burned homes and cars in Philly, forcing residents to flee on foot, while some covered their faces with their clothes because of the smoke.

Volunteers loaded the sheep into car boxes to save them.

Rescuers discovered 18 burnt bodies on Tuesday, believed to be migrants, in an area near Dadia Forest in the Evros region of northern Greece on the border with Turkey, a common route for people from the Middle East and Asia trying to enter the European Union.

In the nearby Greek port city of Alexandroupolis, dozens of hospital patients, some on stretchers, others hooked up to an intravenous drip, were evacuated on a ferry.

A satellite image broadcast on state television showed smoke from the Evros fires drifting across the country to the Ionian Islands in the northwest, not far from Italy.

Summer wildfires are common in Greece, but this year they have been exacerbated by unusually hot, dry and windy weather that scientists link to climate change.

In July, tens of thousands of foreign tourists were evacuated from the island of Rhodes, where a fire raged for a week, burning hotels and resorts as well as swaths of land.

(Reporting by Carolina Tagaris – Prepared by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Edited by Edmund Blair

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