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

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

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Friday 28 July 2023 12:27 BST
Aerial footage captures wildfires raging through Turkish forest

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.

The blazes have killed five people in Greece as they destroyed homes, farms, and factories and scorched swathes of forest land since July 17.

Follow the latest on wildfires in Europe here.

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.

In the hard-hit area of Magnesia, wildfires reached an air force ammunition depot close to the coastal town of Nea Aghialos on Thursday. The blaze at the depot caused powerful explosions and the coast guard said people were forced to escape by land and sea to Volos, the regional capital.

Climate Crisis and Civil Protection minister Vassilis Kikilias said: “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.

A firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire burning at the industrial zone of the city of Volos, in central Greece (REUTERS)

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.”

Flames burn in a field in Capaci, near Palermo, in Sicily, southern Italy (LaPresse)

Meanwhile, in North Africa, at least 34 people have been killed in Algeria, with fires burning in a total of 15 provinces and 1,500 people evacuated from their homes. Among those killed were 10 soldiers who became trapped by flames.

Strong winds resulted in fires spreading to neighbouring Tunisia earlier this week, with two border crossings closed in an attempt to contain the blaze.

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






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