Forest fires are raging in Greece, which have returned to a nationwide state of emergency.
The abnormal heat that hit Europe has caused dozens of forest fires in Greece. In total, the fire services register 82 fires, of which 64 started on Sunday, July 23. Then, the country registered the highest temperature of this summer: +46.4 ºC in the coastal city of Gytheio, in the south of the country.
Tourists leave one of the hotels on the resort island of Rhodes.
The fire engulfed not only mainland Greece, but also the islands. The inhabitants of Rhodes, Corfu and Evia were forced to evacuate. The Ministry of Climate and Civil Protection said the emergency in Rhodes prompted the largest evacuation due to forest fires in the country: more than 16,000 people were brought to safety. Many complained of respiratory problems and loss of documents. The authorities of the island of Evia transferred the inhabitants of the four southern towns to the city of Karitos, which is still far from the fire.
The authorities decided to evacuate local residents and tourists from the dangerous areas.
– The wind is strong, the smoke is very dense, so it is difficult to breathe, – Giorgos Kelaiditis, the deputy governor of central Greece, who inspected the island of Evia, told reporters. The last time the northern part of the island was affected by forest fires was in August 2021.
Now fires are burning in the northeast of Corfu and in the northern part of the Peloponnese, near the town of Aigio. In Corfu, evacuation was announced in 15 settlements. The fires originated in the mountains in the central part of the island and are advancing rapidly towards the coast.
Aviation is involved in extinguishing the fire, but local forces are clearly not coping.
Traffic along the Athens-Patras national highway, which runs along the coast, is blocked. Several travel companies have canceled flights to Rhodes. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a support service at Rhodes airport for tourists and locals who have lost their documents during an emergency evacuation.
At the airport on the island of Rhodes, while waiting for the plane, people are forced to sleep on the floor. For thousands of tourists, the vacation was irrevocably ruined.
Firefighters are trying to save the ancient monuments of architecture from the fires. So, it was possible to localize the fire in the area of the ancient city of Epidavros, where the ancient amphitheater and the temple of Asclepius are located.
Forecasters are forecasting the heat to subside a bit early this week. The temperature will drop to +38’C. But then Greece is waiting for new records.
Firefighters give water to a rescued rabbit.
The EU authorities are helping the Greek government to fight the fire. More than 450 firefighters and seven planes have been dispatched to fight the forest fires, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.
Satellite image of the Greek island of Rhodes, engulfed in fires.
Former Greek National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos suggested on the eve of asking Russia for help, which could provide Russian Be-200 amphibious aircraft.
“Nothing can be extinguished without the Berievs. Let’s bow our heads and ask for help now. They will give us… ”, Kammenos wrote on his Twitter.
Meteorologists predict that the record heat will subside a bit in the next few days, up to +38 C.
Previously, Russian rescuers repeatedly took part in extinguishing forest fires in Greece, after which the Be-200 received the name “Beria”.