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miercuri, 4 octombrie 2023 - 17:05
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Greece, Turkey battle fierce fires as heatwave continues


Hundreds of firefighters battled a blaze on the outskirts of Athens on Friday as dozens of fires raged in Greece in what the Prime Minister dubbed a „critical situation,” while neighbouring Turkey came under increasing pressure over its handling of wildfires, according to France 24.

Greece and Turkey have been fighting blaze upon blaze over the past week, hit by the worst heatwave in decades, a disaster that officials and experts have linked to increasingly frequent and intense weather events caused by climate change.

Firefighters from France arrived in Greece on Thursday night to help, while Switzerland, Sweden, Romania and Israel are due to send back-up.

„Our country is facing an extremely critical situation,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said late Thursday, putting six out of 13 regions in the country under high alert.

North part of Athens, a fierce blaze ate through vast areas of pine forest, forcing yet more evacuations of villages overnight and blowing thick, choking smoke all over the Greek capital.

Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said that out of 99 fires reported on Thursday, 57 were still active during the night, notably on the island of Evia where monks who refused to leave their monastery had been forcibly evacuated.

France was also due to send two water-bombing planes, as was Sweden, while Romania was to dispatch 112 firefighters and 23 vehicles and Switzerland three helicopters, a spokesman for the Greek firefighters told AFP.

Israel, too, said it is planning to dispatch an aircraft carrying 15 firefighters and a large cargo of flame retardant.

The blazes also forced the government of North Macedonia to declare a 30-day state of emergency and the Defence Ministry in its Balkan neighbour Albania to declare the situation „critical” because of the threat to village homes.

In Turkey, 208 fires have lit up since July 28, and 12 were still ablaze on Friday, according to the Turkish presidency.

Eight people have died and dozens have been hospitalised across the southern coasts of the country.