Deadly wildfires in Greece and Turkey force thousands of people to evacuate their homes

Deadly wildfires in Greece and Turkey have forced thousands of people to flee their homes as a relentless heatwave continues to spark infernos in tinder-dry forests.

Firefighters last night battled to bring under control two massive blazes which raged near the ancient site of Olympia, on the western Peloponnese peninsula, and on the island of Evia, around 100 miles north of Athens. 

Around 200 firefighters, 50 fire trucks, six helicopters and water-bombing planes were sent to douse fires encircling the archeological site where the Olympics were first held in 776 B.C.

Thousands more people were fleeing to safety as a wildfire north of Athens caused the shutdown of major motorways as firefighters sought to prevent the blaze from reaching houses, power plants and historic sites.

On Evia, the Greek coast guard rallied an flotilla of patrol boats and private vessels to evacuate hundreds of residents and vacationers by sea after several fires combined to block land routes off the island. 

In Turkey, eight people have been killed in the fires which have ripped through the country’s southwestern coastal regions, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people including tourists and briefly threatening to engulf a power plant.   

GREECE: People swim in the sea off the island of Evia, north of Athens, on Tuesday as a fire rages in the hills above their coastal villas. The Greek coast guard rallied an flotilla of patrol boats and private vessels to evacuate hundreds of residents and vacationers by sea after several fires combined to block land routes off the island.

GREECE: People swim in the sea off the island of Evia, north of Athens, on Tuesday as a fire rages in the hills above their coastal villas. The Greek coast guard rallied an flotilla of patrol boats and private vessels to evacuate hundreds of residents and vacationers by sea after several fires combined to block land routes off the island.

TURKEY: A rescuer carries an old woman away from her home as the Milas district of Mugla province was evacuated due to fires

TURKEY: A rescuer carries an old woman away from her home as the Milas district of Mugla province was evacuated due to fires 

TURKEY: A helicopter dumps water onto the burning forests in Mugla. In coastal Mugla province, where the tourist destinations of Bodrum and Marmaris are located, fires continued to burn in three areas on Friday, officials said.

TURKEY: A helicopter dumps water onto the burning forests in Mugla. In coastal Mugla province, where the tourist destinations of Bodrum and Marmaris are located, fires continued to burn in three areas on Friday, officials said.

GREECE: An aircraft drops water during a wildfire in Kryoneri area, northern Athens on Thursday

GREECE: An aircraft drops water during a wildfire in Kryoneri area, northern Athens on Thursday

GREECE: A firefighter douses flames from the top of a truck as a fire spreads around the village of Afidnes, some 20 miles north of Athens

GREECE: A firefighter douses flames from the top of a truck as a fire spreads around the village of Afidnes, some 20 miles north of Athens

Deadly wildfires in Greece and Turkey have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes as a relentless heatwave continues to spark infernos in tinder-dry forests

Deadly wildfires in Greece and Turkey have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes as a relentless heatwave continues to spark infernos in tinder-dry forests

In coastal Mugla province, where the tourist destinations of Bodrum and Marmaris are located, fires continued to burn in three areas on Friday, officials said. Blazes in Marmaris were largely contained by Friday, according to its mayor. Fires also raged in some districts of Antalya province, another tourism spot.

Mamaris hit a record 114F (45.5C) this week amid growing evidence of what scientists say is man-made climate change. 

Strong winds drove one of the fires toward the compound of the coal-fueled Kemerkoy power plant near the town of Milas, in Mugla province late on Wednesday, forcing nearby residents to flee in navy vessels and cars. It was contained on Thursday after raging for some 11 hours and officials said its main units were not damaged.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last night gave a televised address to lament ‘the reality of climate change’ as he vowed that his government was doing everything in its power to prevent loss of life and damage to property.

‘Unfortunately, under these circumstances, achieving all these aims at the same time is simply impossible,’ he added.   

Several firefighters and volunteers were hospitalized with burns, health officials said. 

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said nine people had been taken by ambulance to hospitals in Athens from the fire north of the Greek capital, three of them suffering breathing problems, while 11 more were being treated in a health center on Evia.

‘We are going through the 10th day of a major heat wave affecting our entire country, the worst heat wave in terms of intensity and duration of the last 30 years,’ Fire Service Brig. Gen. Aristotelis Papadopoulos said. 

GREECE: Firemen battle to extinguish a wildfire in the area of Skepasti in Evia island

GREECE: Firemen battle to extinguish a wildfire in the area of Skepasti in Evia island

GREECE: A desperate battle to save Greek villages continued through the night with those who did not flee helping emergency crews

GREECE: A desperate battle to save Greek villages continued through the night with those who did not flee helping emergency crews

GREECE: Some residents of Afidnes, around 30km (18.6miles) north of Athens stayed behind to assist emergency crews as fires ravaged tree-covered hills into the night

GREECE: Some residents of Afidnes, around 30km (18.6miles) north of Athens stayed behind to assist emergency crews as fires ravaged tree-covered hills into the night

GREECE: Emergency services lined the streets as enormous flames lit up the night in an orange glow

GREECE: Emergency services lined the streets as enormous flames lit up the night in an orange glow

GREECE: A burnt hotel during a wildfire in Lalas village, near Olympia town, western Greece, Thursday

GREECE: A burnt hotel during a wildfire in Lalas village, near Olympia town, western Greece, Thursday

GREECE: A burnt hotel during a wildfire in Lalas village, near Olympia town, western Greece, Thursday

GREECE: A burnt hotel during a wildfire in Lalas village, near Olympia town, western Greece, Thursday

GREECE: A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy in ancient Olympia in western Greece on Wednesday night

GREECE: A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy in ancient Olympia in western Greece on Wednesday night

At least three significant fires were burning, on the island of Evia, in southern Greece and on the outskirts of Athens where a major forest blaze rekindled, and at Olympia where people have been ordered to evacuate. No deaths or severe injuries have been reported, but there has been widespread destruction to buildings and to Greece's quick-shrinking forests

At least three significant fires were burning, on the island of Evia, in southern Greece and on the outskirts of Athens where a major forest blaze rekindled, and at Olympia where people have been ordered to evacuate. No deaths or severe injuries have been reported, but there has been widespread destruction to buildings and to Greece’s quick-shrinking forests

In the Drosopigi area north of Athens, resident Giorgos Hatzispiros went Friday morning to check on his house after being ordered to evacuate the previous afternoon. Only the charred walls of the single-story home remained, along with his two children’s bicycles, somehow unscathed in a storeroom. Inside, smoke rose from a still-smoldering bookcase.

‘Nothing is left,’ Hatzispiros said. He urged his mother, who was accompanying him, to leave, to spare her the sight of their destroyed home.

In southern Greece, nearly 60 villages and settlements were evacuated Thursday and early Friday, with weather conditions expected to worsen as strong winds were predicted in much of the country.

Fires were raging on the island of Evia, northeast of Athens, and at multiple locations in the southern Peloponnese region where a blaze was stopped before reaching monuments at Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games.

A summer palace outside Athens once used by the former Greek royal family was also spared. 

TURKEY: Health officials help out people to be evacuated due to approaching fire that broke out in Milas district of Mugla province on Thursday

TURKEY: Health officials help out people to be evacuated due to approaching fire that broke out in Milas district of Mugla province on Thursday

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

TURKEY: Flames illuminate the sky as people in Yumakli area evacuated due to an approaching fire in Mugla's Mentese district

TURKEY: Flames illuminate the sky as people in Yumakli area evacuated due to an approaching fire in Mugla’s Mentese district

TURKEY: A Turkish volunteer runs as they head to fight wildfires in Turgut village, near tourist resort of Marmaris, Mugla

TURKEY: A Turkish volunteer runs as they head to fight wildfires in Turgut village, near tourist resort of Marmaris, Mugla

TURKEY: People watch an advancing fire that rages Cokertme village, near Bodrum

TURKEY: People watch an advancing fire that rages Cokertme village, near Bodrum

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

TURKEY: Ground and aerial fire extinguishing operations continue to contain the fire in Milas district of Mugla

In Evia, the coast guard said its patrol boats, private vessels and tourist boats had evacuated 631 people overnight and by early Friday morning from beaches on the northeastern coast of the island. Coast guard patrols were continuing along the coast.

Fire crews, water-dropping planes, helicopters and vehicles from France, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland were arriving Friday and through the weekend to help. Fire crews and planes from Cyprus were already in Greece, as the European Union stepped up support to fire-hit countries in southeast Europe.

More than 1,000 firefighters, joined by the army and teams of volunteers, as well as nearly 20 water-dropping planes and helicopters were fighting five major fires across the country, the fire department said.

A heatwave described as Greece’s worst since 1987 has baked the country for more than a week, sending temperatures spiralling to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F) and creating tinder-dry conditions in shrubland and forests.

Nearby countries are battling similar conditions, fuelling wildfires in North Macedonia and blazes in Italy and across the Mediterranean region.

Officials in Albania said one person died of smoke inhalation this week near the southern city of Gjirokaster. 

source: dailymail.co.uk