Athens/Rome, Jul 27 (EFE).- Greece was battling fresh fires on Thursday while blazes on several of its islands continued to rage out of control.
Calves trying to escape from the fire at Sesklo village, in Volos, eastern central Greece, 26 July 2023. EFE/EPA/IKONOMOU VASSILIS
A new fire broke out on Wednesday, five kilometers west of Volos, in central Greece, where an industrial area of the town with some 150,000 residents was under threat.
The flames spread southward forcing the evacuation early on Thursday of at least nine coastal villages in the area.
Some 90 firefighters and 31 vehicles worked through the night to prevent the blaze from reaching a warehouse with propane cylinders as well as the facilities of a nearby metallurgical plant.
Several workers who were trapped in a paper mill were rescued, public broadcaster ERT reported.
According to Greece’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister, Vasilis Kikilias, 594 fires broke out in Greece in the last 10 days.
On Wednesday alone, six new fires were reported in the Magnesia region, killing two people, bringing the death toll linked to wildfires to five.
Authorities found the charred body of a woman inside a mobile home unit near Almiros, a town some 35 kilometers south of Volos.
Meanwhile, near Agios Georgios, further west, authorities found the body of a livestock farmer who had gone out to save his animals.
Blazes on the islands of Rhodes, Corfu and Eubea remain out of control and although the situation has improved somewhat, strong winds that could stoke the fires were expected.
On the island of Rhodes, in the eastern Aegean Sea, thousands of firefighters and volunteers continued to work tirelessly for a tenth day straight.
Wildfires have scorched some 16,000 hectares of forest, in addition to burning several houses and killing countless animals.
Some 19,000 people, including 7,000 tourists, were moved to safety over the weekend in what was Greece’s largest evacuation operation in history.
On the island of Euboea, northeast of Athens, where two pilots died when a tanker plane crashed Tuesday, a large fire rekindled Wednesday night near the coastal village of Caristo.
On the island of Corfu, northwest, another large forest fire remains out of control for a fifth consecutive day, although it is not currently threatening populated areas.
After witnessing an extreme heat wave over the last three weeks, a significant drop in temperatures is expected on Thursday.
On Sunday, Greece recorded its highest temperature ever recorded in the Peloponnese town of Gythion with 46.4 degrees.
Fires continued to rage on the island of Sicily, in southern Italy, where around 30 active blazes have scorched 700 hectares of woodland amid blackouts in some localities.
In Messina authorities said the situation had improved considerably with the exception of some outbreaks in the territories of Santa Teresa, Letojanni and Savoca, while in Mandanici the situation “is under control,” although several families have lost their homes.
Hectares of forests have been burned and the lighting and telephone systems, and the water network in some areas were damaged by the flames, Sicilian authorities reported.
In Palermo, the fires continued to rage and light planes were spotted over the wooded area of Altofonte, while in the Fico valley a blaze continued to burn for two days straight although firefighters said that the fire was under control.
The convent of Santa Maria di Gesu, where the relics of San Benedetto il Moro are kept, is damaged by fire in Palermo, Italy, 25 July 2023. EFE/EPA/Francesco Militello Mirto
Damages to the value of some 60 million euros and almost 700 hectares of wooded area have been decimated in the 338 fires recorded in two days, according to initial estimates by Sicily’s Civil Protection unit.
The extreme heatwave has also destroyed many crops worth 200 million euros.
Rocketing temperatures, above 45 degrees, caused the overloading of the power grid and melted many cables causing power and water cuts across the island.
Italy’s largest farmers’ association, Coldiretti, warned that it would take up to 15 years for forests to recover and the damage would spill over into the wider economy and tourism sector.
In Algeria, at least 34 people have died in forest fires that have scorched several areas in the northeast of the country.
Authorities have arrested 19 people for their alleged involvement in spreading fires that have been raging since Sunday.
Civil Protection services announced Wednesday that 80% of wildfires had been extinguished after a massive operation.
Following last week’s extreme weather, when 50C was recorded in the shade, a drop in temperatures and weaker winds were reported on Wednesday.EFE