Kourkouloí (Greece) (AFP)
“It’s a very sad moment,” said a villager in Evia who had to evacuate as a violent blaze ravages the Greek island, one of dozens of fires that ravaged the country this week during the worst heat wave in over three decades.
“Fortunately, everyone is fine,” Konstantinos Konstantinidise told AFP.
“We will bounce back, hopefully with state help, and we hope to be able to enjoy the summer in our village as we always have,” said the 79-year-old.
In Kourkouloi, his village, thick yellow smoke covers the top of the mountain as water bombers and helicopters fly over and over again in a fierce fight against the flames.
Firefighters were battling a series of fires raging in sweltering heat in western and eastern Greece and on the outskirts of Athens on Thursday, where a fire that had been brought under control has escalated.
“We will fight on all fronts throughout the day. The conditions are difficult, very unusual, ”Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis told ERT television.
Six of the thirteen regions, including Attica where Athens is located, have been placed on high alert for Friday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Thursday evening.
“Our country is facing an extremely critical situation,” he said, as the country experiences the worst heat wave in over 30 years, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places. .
“Unfortunately, the difficulties are still ahead of us and the coming night is worrying. “
– ‘We need help’ –
According to Giannis Tsapourniotis, mayor of Mantoudi in Evia, the island fire is spreading on four fronts, one of which is growing uncontrollably near a monastery that was forcibly evacuated on Wednesday.
The 12 monks of the monastery of Saint David agreed to leave after several hours of negotiations with the security forces.
In Kourkoloi, local resident Ioannis Aslanis says he saved what he could.
“It’s a disaster, everything has burned down in the village. “
On the island, Greece’s second after Crete, some 500 soldiers assisted by some 40 planes and helicopters were to arrive Thursday as reinforcements, said Konstantinos Floros, head of the armed forces.
France sent 40 rescuers to Euboea on Thursday.
Hundreds of houses have already burned down on the island, as have swathes of pine forests.
– 92 forest fires in 24 hours –
Firefighters said Thursday morning they had to fight 92 fires in 24 hours.
North of Athens, a blaze that firefighters hoped to contain picked up steam on Thursday evening, after destroying large swathes of pine forests.
Caused by sudden gusts of wind, the resurgence forced the evacuation of several villages as the flames approached homes dangerously, ERT reported.
Asylum seekers in a nearby camp were also to be transferred to other facilities, according to the Migration Ministry.
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