Where are the Italy wildfires as temperatures rise to 47.6C on Sicliy?

Some 55 separate wildfires have broken out on the island of Sicily, including at Palermo and Catania airports

Lucy Skoulding
Wednesday 26 July 2023 05:02 BST
Palermo airport shut due to raging wildfire

Travel on and off the Italian island of Sicily has been disrupted after wildfires fuelled by extreme temperatures broke out.

Videos and photos show the fires ravaging the island holiday destination, including two of the main airports at Catania and Palermo.

Flames also threatened the ancient archaeological site of Segesta, which had to be closed temporarily to check for any damage.

The Messina area of Sicily has also seen wildfires breakout, with photos showing flames engulfing part of the village of Curcuraci.

Temperatures rose to 47.6C in some parts of the island on Monday, sparking at least 55 separate blazes.

How hot is it in Sicily?

Italy – like much of southern Europe – has been hit by scorching temperatures bringing increased risk of fires and deaths.

Yesterday, temperatures rose to 47.6C in some parts of eastern Sicily, close to the record European high of 48.8C recorded on the island two years ago.

The latest high temperatures has led the government to put 16 Italian cities on red alert.

Where are the wildfires in Sicily?

Key urban areas in Sicily, including Palermo in the northwest of the island, and Catania, the business capital, on the east coast of the island have been impacted by wildfires.

Both cities have seen a number of power and water supply cuts in recent days which local officials blamed in part on the heat.

The ancient archaeological site of Segesta was also threatened by a wildfire a few days ago, while the village of Curcuraci in the Messina area has also experienced fires.

The map below shows the areas affected by the wildfires as well as specific places mentioned.

Map shows in red the regions and specific places impacted by wildfires in Sicily

How is travel affected?

The airport at Palermo, Sicily’s capital, was closed on Tuesday 25 July as the wildfires sparked massive blazes to spread.

The Sicilian airport tweeted to say it would remain shut until 0900 GMT to give firefighters an opportunity to extinguish the fires which were also disrupting local road and rail traffic.

It came days after the island’s main airport of Catania, Italy’s fifth-biggest, was closed due to a fire in a terminal building.

It has since reopened but only for a few flights.

What is the weather like elsewhere in Italy?

On Tuesday, Italy put 16 cities on red alert because of the high temperatures, including in Palermo and Catania.

Elsewhere, the Mediterranean country has been battered by severe storms. On overnight storm in Milan on Monday tore off roofs and uprooted trees, blocking roads and disrupting overground transportation in Italy’s financial capital.

Two women were killed on Monday and Tuesday in the northern Monza and Brescia provinces after being crushed by falling trees.

“I have been through 65 summers in my lifetime ... and what I am seeing now is not normal, we can no longer deny it, climate change is changing our lives,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala wrote on social media.

An overnight storm in Milan tore off roofs and uprooted trees

On Monday, a Delta flight headed to New York which had taken off from Milan’s Malpensa airport was seriously damaged by a hailstorm and was forced to land in Rome.

Italy is one of the European countries most affected by climate change, and suffered deadly floods in May.

A firefighter looks on during a fire near the village of Vati, just north of the coastal town of Gennadi, in the southern part of Rhodes, Greece

What is happening in Greece?

Wildfires have also caused serious destruction on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu.

Videos of roaring fires and towering black smoke have circulated online from Rhodes and Corfu. However, wildfires have erupted across several areas including Evia and the Peloponnese region.

Firefighters battled against 82 wildfires across the country overnight, forcing the “biggest evacuation” in the country’s history.

The fires have prompted several major UK travel companies to cancel flights in the coming days and a number of evacuation flights have been scrambled to the country to bring back fleeing tourists.

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