Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius and high winds have fueled hundreds of wildfires around the Mediterranean basin in southern Europe over the past week, particularly in Greece and Turkey. The evacuation of tourists and residents continued, Monday, August 2, even as the European Union sent reinforcements to Turkey, the worst-affected country, in the form of three bomber aircraft.
“Worst heat wave since 1987” in Greece
greece live now “The worst heat wave since 1987”, According to its Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, it should last a few more days with expected temperatures around 45 degrees Celsius at the beginning of the week, and a minimum that should not fall below 26 degrees Celsius.
Dryed by the heat, Greek forests are exposed to fires every summer, but the 2021 fires are especially devastating. A fire risk has also been declared ” very high “ In most parts of the country, in particular the region of Athens, Peloponnese, Crete and the Aegean Islands. According to the European Forest Fire Information System (Effis)Since the beginning of the year, 13,511 hectares of smoke have escaped in Greece.
The two most important fires were reported in northwest Peloponnese and on the tourist island of Rhodes. The first led to the evacuation of coastal villages and the closure of several axes, including the motorway connecting Corinth with Patras, the country’s third largest city, and the Rio Antio bridge that connects the peninsula to the Greek mainland.
In Rhodes, the situation is on the way to control, according to the authorities, who say that the fire announced on Sunday was in decline, under the influence of a significant reinforcement of personnel and means of fighting the fire. . “The first goal, which is to protect human life, has been achieved.” And Damage to the power grid has been repaired. said Governor of the South Aegean George Schatzimarcus. Firefighters are still clearing, as a precaution, Butterfly Valley, a wooded area in the center of the Dodecanese island, which usually attracts hikers and tourists.
Cities were evacuated and nearly 100,000 hectares were burned in Turkey
The fires in Turkey, compared to those in Greece, are more worrying because they are more numerous, widespread and less easily controlled. Over six days, temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, the fires forced the evacuation of more than a thousand people, tourists and residents alike, and caused at least eight deaths. Nearly 95,000 hectares have burned so far in 2021 in the country. Between 2008 and 2020, the annual average was just over 13,000 hectares per year.
According to Agriculture Minister Bakir Pakdemirli, 119 fires reported in 32 provinces of the country have been put out since Wednesday. The Forestry Directorate, a Turkish public body cited by AFP, identified seven most active, mainly in the coastal and tourist provinces of Antalya and Mugla. Ahmet Aras, the mayor of Bodrum, where tourists and locals fled the flames by boat because the roads were impassable, described scenes from “Hell”.
The European Union has sent three sea-bombers – two from Canadair from Spain and one from Croatia – to assist Turkey, as part of the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism. Before the European aid was announced, Turkey borrowed bomber aircraft from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Iran.