Deadly Greek wildfire still ‘out of control’
A monster forest fire that has raged for nine days in the Dadia National Park in northeast Greece, a major European sanctuary for birds of prey, is still spreading, firefighters said yesterday.
"The fire is still out of control," a spokesman for the fire service told AFP, adding that "nearly 500 firefighters backed by 100 vehicles, seven planes and three helicopters are fighting the flames."
The fire is burning across a nearly 10-kilometre (six-mile) front, according to firefighters.
The blaze, which erupted on August 19, is devastating the Evros region near the port city of Alexandroupoli and the border with Turkey, forcing the evacuations of some villages.
Twenty people, 18 of them migrants, have perished in the flames, with the region a regular entry point from neighbouring Turkey. Two of the dead were children.
On Sunday, the EU's Copernicus climate observatory said on social media that "the burnt area has reached 77,000 hectares (190,000 acres) with 120 active hot spots".
The Dadia forest is part of a Unesco World Heritage national park, with vegetation so dense that water from hoses often fails to reach flames at ground level, experts say.
Another dangerous fire is also raging on Mount Parnitha near Athens for the sixth straight day, with 270 firefighters on the scene.
"The risks are still high and the fire service remains on a high state of alert," said government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis yesterday.
Greece has been ravaged by numerous fires this summer which the government attributes to climate change.
"It has been the most difficult summer we have faced in terms of climatic conditions, which makes the work of the authorities much more difficult," Marinakis added.
Wildfires have so far burned more than 120,000 hectares across Greece this summer, according to the authorities.