The main hospital of Alexandroupolis in northeast Greece has been evacuated, as wildfires have engulfed the coastal town near the border with Turkey.
Dozens of patients accompanied by doctors and nurses have been transferred as a precaution to a ferry docked at the port.
Patients hooked up to oxygen bottles lay on mattresses on decks of the ship converted into hospital wards. Tents were also erected on the shore.
Σοκαριστικό video από το DRONE τώρα (01:50): Η φωτιά πλησιάζει το Νοσοκομειο. Βρίσκετε ακριβώς πίσω.
Σήμα εκκένωσης στην περιοχή από το 112.
— e-evros.gr (@eevrosgr) August 21, 2023
Preparations for possible evacuation had been announced earlier by the Fire Brigade spokesperson Yiannis Artopios during a briefing. Patients were evacuated with ambulances provided by the Health Ministry and the help of a large police force stationed in the region for the purpose.
Fires have also been burning dozens of kilometres to the north-west of the city, in Rhodope and further west along the coast in Kavala.
Wildfire breaks out north-west of Athens
Gale-force winds were fanning the flames of dozens of wildfires in several parts of the country on Tuesday.
A wildfire is in progress in Fyli, near the slopes of Mt. Parnitha in the west Attica region. According to the Fire Department, the fire broke out at 11:56 a.m. in an area near The Holy Dormition of the Virgin Monastery.
A message was sent to the residents of Fyli via the emergency number 112 to evacuate their area and head towards Ano Liosia due to a forest fire that is in progress.
— Vericum (@VMdesignblogg) August 22, 2023
Three fires that broke out on Tuesday in the areas Lakka Katsari, Nea Zoi and Ammoudies of Aspropyrgos, southern Attica, are also in progress.
According to the Fire Brigade, the three fires broke out close to industrial areas. 27 fire engines with a 72-member crew and two water-dropping helicopters are battling the blaze.
Εργοστάσιο με φωτοβολταϊκά πάνελ στον Ασπρόπυργο καταστράφηκε ολοσχερώς.
— NEWS 24/7 (@News247gr) August 22, 2023
Greece is on alert for the wildfires
“The last 48 hours, unfortunately like the next 48 hours, are proving exceptionally critical due to the strong winds and high temperatures that are creating extensive fire fronts,” said Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vasilis Kikilias.
Since Sunday night, fifty-three fires had broken out across the country, including fourteen in the northeastern Evros border region alone, he added. The government held an emergency meeting with the heads of the fire department, police, coast guard, armed forces, and intelligence services.
Authorities banned public access to mountains and forests in several regions until Wednesday morning and ordered military patrols.
The largest active wildfire was ravaging forests and farmland for a third day near the northeastern town of Alexandroupolis, where thirteen villages were evacuated and several homes were destroyed over the weekend.
One person died on Monday. According to police, the victim is an elderly shepherd who rushed to his sheepfold to save the animals from the blaze near the village of Prodormos in the prefecture of Viotia, located in central Greece.
Another major wildfire broke out on Monday near the town of Psachna on the island of Evia. According to the Fire Brigade, the fire burned forest and farmland.
Wildfires in Greece
Last month, devastating wildfires wreaked havoc in central Greece and the islands, leading to the compulsory evacuation of around twenty thousand tourists from the resort island of Rhodes.
Shortly thereafter, a water-dropping plane operated by the air force crashed while engaging in a blaze on the island of Evia. This resulted in the loss of two air force pilots’ lives.
Over six hundred fires swept across Greece, scorching hundreds of square miles of land and leaving thousands of tourists stranded. Recent extreme heat in the Mediterranean saw temperatures top 40C. Experts have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires.