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Greece Gripped by Wildfires Amid Heatwave

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Photo: Firefighters are battling to extinguish 82 wildfires that have engulfed Greece, Source: TheGaze
Photo: Firefighters are battling to extinguish 82 wildfires that have engulfed Greece, Source: TheGaze

Firefighters are battling to extinguish 82 wildfires that have engulfed Greece, with 64 of them erupting on Sunday as temperatures soared to a record-breaking 46.4°C.

This was reported by The Guardian.

The island of Rhodes has become the epicenter of the forest fires, leading to the evacuation of 19 thousand people from 12 villages and several hotels via both land and sea.

A spokesperson for the fire service stated that 10% of hotels in the central and southeastern parts of the island have been affected by the fires. The areas of Laerma, Lardos, and Asklipio have also been impacted, while the northern and western regions of the island remain unaffected. Firefighters are setting up firebreaks to protect dense forests and residential areas.

So far, six people in Rhodes have been taken to the hospital due to respiratory problems, and they have received the necessary medical assistance. Among them, two individuals remain hospitalized – one sustained a broken leg during the evacuation, while the other is a pregnant woman.

Initially, travel companies such as TUI and Jet2 cancelled their flights, but later, the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport announced that 14 TUI and Jet2 flights carrying 2,600 passengers would still depart from Rhodes Airport.

Greek officials reported that approximately 70,000 passengers passed through the airport on Saturday and Sunday morning. In light of the circumstances, a special information desk has been established to assist tourists who have lost their documents.

Apart from Rhodes, the fires have spread to Corfu. Local authorities have urged people to leave the island, stating that the fire is "moving southeast on a wide front," and evacuation boats are prepared to pick up people at any time.

Evia, which already suffered from devastating wildfires in August 2021, is once again grappling with fires. Authorities have ordered residents of four southern villages to evacuate to the west of the fires, specifically to the town of Karistos.

"The fire may be 2 km (1.2 miles) away, but the strong winds, low altitude, thick smoke, and difficult-to-breathe air are posing significant challenges," said Giorgos Kelaiditis, the Vice Governor of Central Greece.

According to the meteorological stations of the National Observatory of Athens, a new maximum temperature record of 46.4° was recorded on 23 July, the highest ever recorded in Greece since measurements began in 2006.

This year, not only Greece but also the entire Europe, including Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, is grappling with record temperatures and wildfires.

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