VideoThousands of people in Greece are fleeing wildfires that have swept the country for nearly a week. At night from Friday to Saturday, more than 1,300 people were taken by ferry from the island of Evia, east of Athens. Villages north of the capital and in the Peloponnese were also evacuated. The lands of the eastern municipality of Mani, south of Sparta, are said to have been largely destroyed.
At night the flames also reached Therakomacdonis, a suburb of Athens. The residents were evacuated. Plumes of smoke hung over the capital on Saturday and ash fell on the streets. Residents were urged to stay indoors. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke of a “nightmare-like summer”.
Mayor Eleni Draculaco of the East Mani municipality of more than 13,000 people, told ERT television on Saturday morning that two-thirds of her municipality had burned. “It’s a biblical disaster,” the mayor said, complaining that too few firefighting planes were deployed in the early hours of the blaze.
See the current situation regarding forest fires in Greece on the map below. Red icons represent fires. You can zoom in on the map.
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The governor of central Greece, Phanes Spanos, wrote on Facebook that there are very few resources on Evia to fight the fire. “We want at least a fair number of firefighting planes, which we’ve been asking since day one, and more firefighting vehicles,” he wrote. Fires raged along the island of Evia, the third largest Greek island.
The wildfires sweeping Greece burned further on Friday. Thousands of people in the northern suburbs of the capital, Athens, were forced to evacuate their homes Thursday night. Prime Minister Mitsotakis warned that the worst was yet to come with intensifying winds.
Greece is experiencing its worst heat wave in thirty years, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees, and struggling with drought. Meanwhile, strong winds make it difficult to put out the fire. At least three people were arrested for arson. Visiting parks and forests is prohibited.
More than 1,400 firefighters are battling the blaze. Israel, Cyprus, France, Croatia and Sweden sent firefighting planes to help the Greeks. Forest fires are still raging in Turkey and neighboring Macedonia.
Rain brings some comfort in Turkey
In parts of neighboring Turkey, rains eased after a week and a half of devastating bushfires. Authorities in the tourist province of Antalya say the fire is now under control. There was heavy rain in the Manavgat district which was hit hard, among other things.
The fires have killed at least eight people in Turkey. Forest Minister Bekir Bakdemirli reported earlier this weekend that at least 200 fires have broken out in 47 of 81 provinces recently. Not all are under control yet.
For example, emergency services are still fully hands on fighting fires in the popular holiday destination of Mugla, a province on the Mediterranean coast. There were also places that had to be disinfected.
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