Greece faces wildfires, soaring temperatures amidst heatwave

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Greece is facing a new wave of extremely hot weather with soaring temperatures. Wildfires are spreading on popular tourist islands, leading to large evacuations.

In the capital city of Athens, temperatures are expected to reach 41 degrees Celsius, and even higher at 44C in central Greece, as warned by the national weather forecaster EMY.

Many areas in the country are on “red alert” due to the high risk of dangerous forest fires, made worse by strong winds.

The intense heat caused locals and tourists to flee forest fires on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu over the weekend. The prime minister described the situation as a battle against the flames.

Around 2,500 people were evacuated from the island of Corfu on Monday, and tens of thousands had already fled from fires on Rhodes. Tourists were trying to return home through evacuation flights.

Firefighters have been fighting the flames for eight days on Rhodes, with support from helicopters and planes.

Fires are also spreading on Greece’s second-largest island, Evia, where authorities issued an evacuation order for one northern area.

On Sunday, the temperature reached 46.4C in Gythio, in the southern Peloponnese peninsula, but it didn’t break the national record of 48C.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said they are fully focused on fighting the wildfires and compared it to a war. The country is facing three more tough days before the high temperatures are expected to ease.

The heatwave is affecting much of southern Europe and Northern Africa. In Algeria, at least 34 people died due to wildfires, leading to mass evacuations. In southeastern France, fire warnings were issued in the Bouches-du-Rhone region.

The extreme temperatures in Greece have forced tourist sites like the Acropolis to close during the hottest hours. The country’s civil protection minister mentioned that over 500 fires have been battled for 12 consecutive days.

The fires are causing significant damage on popular tourist islands like Rhodes and Corfu, where many hotels are full. Volunteers have been helping foreign tourists who were evacuated and stranded.

Scientists from the World Weather Attribution group stated that these heatwaves in Europe and North America were nearly impossible without human-caused climate change.