Fires in Greece: The Latest
ATHENS – The effort to end the catastrophic forest fires in Greece entered a second week on Monday, with foreign countries continuing to send support, and officials began to assess the extent of damage to thousands of homes and tens of thousands of acres of forest land.
Forest fires were also still burning in neighboring Turkey, where at least eight people have died, as well as in Italy and other parts of Europe. A prolonged heat wave created powder keg conditions on the continent.
A spokesman for Greek firefighters, Vasilis Vathrakoyiannis, said several fires had been contained to a large extent, but the risk of them igniting again was high. “We are particularly concerned about Euboea,” he said, referring to the second largest island in Greece, northeast of the capital, which was most affected by the flames. “It’s a huge expanse where we can see a revival at any time. “
Video taken from a plane participating in the firefighting showed that a blaze had rekindled on the island on Monday.
A video posted online by the meteorological service of the Athens National Observatory showed the extent of the devastation on the island, with more than 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) reduced to ashes.
On Sunday evening, fires continued to burn across Evia, with residents of some villages defying government calls to abandon their homes. Earlier today, hundreds of more people were evacuated by ferry from the island’s northwest coast after the blazes reached beaches in the area.
Three helicopters from Serbia were en route Monday, and three more planes were due to arrive Tuesday from Israel and the United Arab Emirates. More than 20 countries have contributed to Greece’s firefighting effort.
While scientists have yet to have time to assess the link between the current wave of extreme temperatures and global warming, it fits a global trend that has seen climate change play a role in extreme weather conditions in Europe. Research has shown that for large heat waves across Europe in recent summers, climate change has been a significant aggravating factor.
A major United Nations climate report released on Monday warned that countries have delayed cutting fossil fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer prevent global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, resulting in potentially fatal heat waves and more frequent severe droughts. .
Authorities are investigating the causes of the fires and four people have been arrested – two for arson and two for negligent arson.
The fires fueled a furious storm on Greek social media, with rivals for the Conservative government accusing it of criminal incompetence to respond to the fires. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week that the state has responded as best it can to the multiple fires, which have strained the country’s firefighting capacity, but pledged a overhaul of the fire protection and flood relief work “once this nightmarish summer is over”.
On Monday, state teams visited charred land on the northern outskirts of the capital to assess the damage as Mitsotakis and senior officials discussed the issue of compensation for victims of the fires and reforestation plans. of affected areas.
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