Greece wildfires: PM describes 'nightmarish summer'

Greece’s prime minister has talked of a “nightmarish summer” as forest fires continue to ravage the country.

Thousands have been evacuated from their homes in parts of Greece and more than 1,000 firefighters have been deployed to bring the flames under control.

The country is experiencing its worst heatwave in more than 30 years.

Authorities have warned that the risk of further fires remains high in many regions including Athens and Crete.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government’s priority has been “first and foremost , to protect human lives”.

In the last 10 days, more than 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres) have been burnt in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
Dozens of wildfires have broken out in the last 24 hours with the largest fronts in Evia – Greece’s second largest island – and areas in the Peloponnese including Arkadia and Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

In Evia, more than 2,000 people have been evacuated via ferry. Ten ships are waiting at Pefki, in the north of the island, ready to evacuate more people if needed, a Coast Guard spokesperson told AP news agency.

EXPLAINER: The burning issue of wildfires
On Saturday, a fire just north of Athens on Mount Parnitha spread smoke across the capital. Authorities set up a hotline for people with breathing difficulties, according to AP news.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area since Thursday but by Saturday the flames had receded. However with strong winds forecast, there are concerns that the fire could flare again.

One resident, who was sitting in a car park with his girlfriend, said they had only spent one night in their newly built house before they had to flee. He had spent four hours trying to use a garden house to save his property.

A number of countries have offered support to Greece. Fire-fighters from nations including the UK, France, Romania and Switzerland have sent firefighters to the area.

In Turkey, authorities have been struggling to contain a number of blazes, which have been described by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the country’s worst wildfires.

Tens of thousands of hectares have been destroyed in Mediterranean and Aegean provinces.

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.

The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

By admin