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Greece fires – live: Rhodes state of emergency remains as flames reach outskirts of Athens

Fire Service spokesman Ioannis Artopios said 12 villages were ordered to be evacuated

Plane fighting wildfires in Evia crashes

A wildfire has triggered a series of massive explosions at an air force ammunition depot in central Greece.

The depot was evacuated before the explosions, which shattered windows in the surrounding area. No injuries were reported, although continued blasts prevented firefighting teams from approaching the site.

Greek state broadcaster ERT said the facility is in the coastal town of Nea Aghialos near the Volos area.

The fire reached the ammunition storage facility about four miles north of the major military air base in Nea Anchialos. Local media reported that bombs and ammunition for Greek F-16 fighters were stored at the site

The fighter jets are reportedly being moved from the air base.

Fire Service spokesman Ioannis Artopios said 12 villages were ordered to be evacuated in the Volos-Nea Anchialos area.

Meanwhile, the blaze reached the outskirts of Athens, with 61 fires breaking out across the country in 24 hours.

Deadly wildfires on Greece’s mainland have killed two as wildfires spread in Europe and north Africa including Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Italy, France, Croatia, Spain, Algeria and Tunisia.


Firefighters battle Greece wildfires overnight as farms and factories burn

Firefighters in Greece battled flames burning for the 10th day on the island of Rhodes, while new blazes erupted on the mainland that destroyed farms and factories overnight and left farmers rushing to evacuate their animals.

The blazes across the country, which have been supercharged by strong winds and temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), killed a further two people in central Greece on Wednesday, taking the death toll from the fires to five.

Officials ordered the evacuation of several communities in the hard-hit area of Magnesia, a coastal area north of Athens.

(AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 09:13

Update from TUI

A TUI UK&I spokesperson said: “Our teams in Rhodes have been working tirelessly to support customers impacted by the wildfires in south-eastern parts of the island. We’ve brought hundreds of people home and hundreds more will be travelling back to the UK on flights today.

“We appreciate how distressing and difficult it’s been for those who had to evacuate their hotels and curtail their holidays. And we also understand those due to travel to Rhodes may be concerned about how their holidays could be affected.

“We’re continuing to monitor the situation and have made some changes to our holiday programme in the coming days. We’d like to reassure customers their health and safety is our top priority and re-iterate that we are constantly reviewing the situation and will provide any new updates as soon as we are able.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 09:43

Rhodes wildfires could be controlled by weekend, fire official says

The wildfires burning in Rhodes for a 10th day could be largely quelled in the next two days, a fire service official on the island has said.

While strong winds have caused repeated flare-ups in recent days, the official told The Independent: “The view today is quite [a bit] better … If the wind doesn’t get stronger tomorrow, the last day could be today or tomorrow.”

“But it is still burning in a lot of places in the south,” they said, adding that some 210 firefighters were currently battling persistent blazes near the mountain villages of Vati and Profilia, and behind the seaside town of Gennadi.

Along with four firefighting airplanes and four helicopters, there are also 45 fire vehicles from Rhodes and Athens currently out in force, and over 100 cars from volunteer civilians on the island, the official said.

Men sit on the back of their pick-up truck as wildfires rage in the background close to the village of Vati on the Greek island of Rhodes on 25 July (AFP)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 10:13

Are flights still going to Rhodes and can I get a refund? TUI explains

Here are the main updates:

“Scheduled return flights from Rhodes to the UK – will continue to operate as planned.

“Up to and including Friday 28th July – no outbound flights will operate to Rhodes - all flight-only customers due to travel on these flights will receive full refunds, and package holiday customers will have the option to amend their booking or cancel with a full refund. Refunds will be processed within 14 days of the booking being cancelled.

“Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July – our holiday programme to the North of Rhodes, where hotels and resorts are fully operational, will resume. Any customers who would prefer to amend to another available holiday can do so or they can cancel with a full refund.

“Up to and including Friday 11th August – Whilst a number of hotels in the South of the island are open, TUI is offering customers travelling on a package holiday to a hotel in the south of the island the option to rebook or amend their holiday, or cancel with a full refund.

“Our teams will be contacting these customers to discuss their preferred options, including anyone who’s booked on a non-TUI flight.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 10:41

Mainland Greece hit by fresh wildfires overnight

Wildfires ripped through mainland Greece late on Wednesday, leaving a wake of death and destruction.

Officials ordered the evacuation of several communities in the hard-hit area of Magnesia, a coastal area north of Athens.

The body of a 45-year old shepherd was found in a rural area on Wednesday evening, the fire brigade said. Earlier, authorities had found the body of a woman, state TV ERT said. Both deaths were attributed to the fires.

In Sesklo, a village near the coastal port city of Volos, the regional capital, the charred remains of a cow could be seen on a farm as locals coached away other cattle.

“It started from the grass on various fronts in the area and we got to this situation from the lack of public authority, of regional governors, mayors, to burn half of Magnesia,” farmer Kostas Koukouvinos said.

Late on Wednesday flames threatened the industrial zone of the city of Volos. Firefighters circled the area as they tried to protect it, a Reuters witness said.

The labour ministry urged employers in the area to suspend operations on Thursday.

A separate wildfire flared near the city of Lamia, south of Volos. Residents of several settlements were told to leave their homes.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 10:49

‘It was like an apocalypse’: Palermo journalist recalls overnight blaze

A journalist from BlogSicilia said scenes of the overnight blaze in Palermo were like an “apocalypse scene”.

Italian firefighters said they battled nearly 1,400 fires between Sunday and Tuesday, including 650 in Sicily and 390 in Calabria, the southern mainland region where a bedridden 98-year-old man was killed as fire consumed his home.

Fires were still burning on the hills around Palermo on Wednesday, with Canadair planes back in operation to try to douse the flames.

Speaking to Sky News, Piero Messina said: “The landscape from Palermo from the night of the fire seems to be really an apocalypse scene. It seems to be not real.”

Though Mr Messina acknowledged climate change played a crucial role in the devastating wildfires, he said an inquiry has been opened by the prosecutor office in Palermo to investigate whether criminal elements are involved.

“Every year in Sicily, we have to fight against arson fires and this time it could be really a nightmare,” he said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 11:15

Fire risk remains ‘extreme’ for several areas of Greece today, fire brigade warns

The risk of fire remained “extreme” for several areas of Greece on Thursday, the fire brigade said.

Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said Greece was experiencing “very dangerous summer days.”

The fires, he said, were fanned by strong winds and worsened by abnormally high temperatures, kindling fronts stretching for several kilometres.

“Given the climate crisis, we will again have extreme weather conditions that will again test our strength. Nothing is over, the battle will continue throughout the summer,” he said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 11:17

In pictures: Nature scorched and charred in Corfu

Pictures show the natural world scorched after fires ravaged the Greek island of Corfu this week.

The shell of a tortoise lies on the charred ground near the village of Loutses on the Greek island of Corfu (AFP via Getty Images)
The remains of a green house and charred vegetable plants are pictured at a small farm near the village of Loutses (AFP via Getty Images)
Charred fruit hang on tree branches at a small farm (AFP via Getty Images)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 11:55

Maps show the extent of wildfires in Rhodes, Corfu and Portugal

Wildfires have ravaged at least nine countries in Europe and North Africa this week, forcing mass evacuations as firefighters battle on in tinderbox conditions.

Extreme heat and billowing winds have created the “perfect storm” for fires to rip through swathes of land in Greece, France, Portugal, Spain, Gran Canaria, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia.

In Rhodes, one of the worst affected Greek islands, more than 20,000 tourists and locals fled from the blaze in “the biggest evacuation” in Greece’s history.

The Greek Fire Brigade has been battling more than 500 fires for almost two weeks, but the service said the risk of fire remained “extreme” for several areas of Greece on Thursday.

Here we look at where the fires have struck this week:

Maps show the extent of wildfires in Rhodes, Corfu and Portugal

Greece, France, Italy and Croatia among countries scorched by deadly blaze

Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 12:16

Greece PM says climate change 'not an excuse' as wildfires burn

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said Greece needed to take more steps to combat the effects of climate change as wildfires on the mainland burned farms and factories overnight and left farmers rushing to evacuate their animals.

The fire brigade said more than 500 wildfires have burned across the country so far this year. While summer fires are common in Greece, scientists say higher temperatures and dryer weather are turning it into a Mediterranean hotspot for climate change.

Mitsotakis said Greece needed to reform its fire fighting and fire prevention policies and do more to alleviate the impact of climate change.

“The climate crisis may be a reality, but it cannot be an excuse,” he said during a meeting with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

“Our country ought to take more steps... to be ready to mitigate, as much as possible, the effects of a reality that we are already starting to feel, and that could have dramatic effects on many different aspects of our economic and social life,” he said.

(AFP via Getty Images)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain27 July 2023 12:33

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