Greece wildfires: Hundreds more evacuated as uncontrolled fires rageon August 8, 2021 at 4:10 pm

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Ferries carry tourists and locals to safety from Greece’s second-largest island, Evia.

Hundreds more people have been forced to flee their homes in Greece as firefighters struggle to contain huge, days-old, wildfires.

Tourists and locals were evacuated by boat from Evia, the country’s second-largest island, on Sunday.

More than 2,000 people have now been evacuated in total. Houses and power lines have also been destroyed.

While the fire on Evia is the most severe, dozens of smaller blazes are burning around the country.

The fires broke out after the most severe heatwave in 30 years, in which temperatures spiked to 45C (113F).

Heatwaves such as this are becoming more likely and more extreme because of human-induced climate change. The subsequent hot, dry weather is likely to fuel wildfires.

A firefighting plane makes a water drop as a wildfire burns on the island on Sunday

image sourceReuters

“We have ahead of us another difficult evening, another difficult night,” Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias said on Sunday.

“On Evia we have two major fire fronts, one in the north and one in the south,” he said, adding that the situation around the capital Athens had improved.

“We are afraid of the danger of flare-ups,” Mr Hardalias warned.

Hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to Evia, and a total of 17 planes and helicopters are being used. The army has also been sent in.

Dramatic footage showed ferries full of people surrounded by the burning landscape and bright red skies.

“I feel angry. I lost my home… nothing will be the same,” one resident, Vasilikia, told Reuters news agency as she boarded a rescue ferry on Sunday.

“It’s a disaster. It’s huge. Our villages are destroyed, there is nothing left from our homes,” she added.

Authorities say the risk of further fires remains high in many regions, including Athens and Crete. Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has warned the country could face a “nightmarish summer” of continuous forest fires.

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.

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 the Associated Press.

Thousands of people were evacuated from the area but the flames have receded. However, with strong winds forecast, there are concerns that the fire could flare again.

A number of countries have offered support to Greece. The UK, France, Romania and Switzerland have sent firefighters to the country.

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By Bethany Bell, BBC News, Evia

There are long queues of cars at the port in Evia, waiting to get on ferries to the mainland.

Holidaymakers and some locals are leaving, to get to a place of safety, away from the heavy cloud of smoke and ash that hangs in the air.

One woman said she was hopeful that her holiday home would be safe, but others were angry with the authorities. They have abandoned us, one man said.

“They know wildfires can happen, but they’ve made no preparations, people are having to put out the flames by themselves,” he said.

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