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Greece at ‘War’ with Wildfires Raging for More than a Week

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Flare-ups on the islands of Rhodes, Corfu, and Evia keep firefighting forces on high alert. Credit: AMNA

Several wildfires are raging in Greece as a third heatwave is moving in with temperatures forecast to climb to 44°C (111.2°F) on Tuesday and Wednesday in several parts of the country.

The wildfires continue to burn on the islands of Rhodes, Corfu, and Evia.

On Rhodes, in the southeastern Aegean, the weeklong blaze that has prompted massive evacuations, including thousands of tourists, picked up overnight in the areas of Gennadi and Vati in the southeast.

The situation was also described as being particularly challenging in Malonas and Massari, a bit further north.

Meanwhile in southern Evia – an area that has seen more than its share of fires – residents in Platanistos and Potami were ordered to evacuate to the coastal town of Karystos at around 2 a.m. as the blaze flared up, while in Corfu there were fresh flareups in the area of Palia Peritheia, on the Ionian island’s northwestern tip.

Two aircraft are assisting the ground forces operating in Karystos, and they are expected to increase.

The fire continues to burn in Corfu where, according to the fire department, there were flare-ups in the area of Palaia Perithia.

Strong ground forces and four aircraft and a helicopter are scrambling to put out the fires, and they are expected to be reinforced with more airplanes.

“We are at war” with wildfires, Mitsotakis says

An average of 50 new wildfires have broken out daily for the past 12 days in Greece, according to government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis. Over the weekend 64 new blazes were recorded.

“All the government’s efforts are focused on the safety of citizens and visitors and the protection of human life,” Marinakis said, stressing that an estimated 19,000 people in Rhodes had been moved to safe locations, of which 3,000 were transferred by boat.

“It was the biggest evacuation effort in the country. People of advanced age and people with disabilities were transported in Hellenic Police vehicles, while the majority of citizens and tourists were transported in tourist boats, coast guard vessels and private boats commandeered by the coast guard,” he said.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a debate in parliament declared: “We are at war – completely focused on the fires.”

“Over the coming days and weeks, we must remain on constant alert,” he said, highlighting the threat from climate change, which he added “will make its presence ever more felt with greater natural disasters throughout the Mediterranean region”.

Warning of an extreme risk of wildfires in Greece

Meanwhile, Greek authorities have issued a warning of an extreme risk of fire (risk category 5) for the island of Crete and the islands of southern Aegean, including Rhodes.

Risk category 4 has been issued for the following areas:
– Attica
– Central Greece
– North Aegean (Samos, Ikaria)
– South Aegean (Karpathos, Kalymnos, Kos)
– Thessaly (Larissa, Magnesia)
– Crete (Chania)
– The Peloponnese
– The Ionian Islands
– Western Greece

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