Greece: Euboea in flames, fires north of Athens in remission
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Greece: Euboea in flames, fires north of Athens in remission

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Firefighters in Greece, with ground and air support from other European countries, battled forest fires on Sunday for the 12th consecutive day.

The fires were still raging on the island of Euboea on Sunday, while others north of Athens were in remission.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the island, which lies 200 km east of Athens, and is the second-largest Greek island in terms of size. Thousands of hectares of pine forests have already been destroyed by the flames, which continued on Sunday morning.

A huge, mountainous island covered with pine trees that traditionally attracts Greek and foreign tourists, Euboea is a logistical nightmare for the firefighters, due to its craggy landscape.

A total of 263 Greek firefighters using 66 vehicles and backed by over 200 colleagues from Ukraine and Romania were deployed there on Sunday morning, supported by seven water bombers, fire service sources said.

The flames had already reached homes in the villages of Ellinika, Vasilika and Psaropouli, after destroying hundreds of homes in its path.

Ferries and navy ships were on the alert along the coast in case more people needed to be evacuated. About a dozen inhabitants were rescued at dawn on Sunday from a beach surrounded by flames, Greek news agency ANA reported.

On Saturday, temporary lodging was provided for about 2,000 persons evacuated from Euboea, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said.

A total of 55 active fires, five of them major, were identified on Saturday in Greece, which has been experiencing an exceptionally severe heatwave.

North of Athens, the situation has stablised and, according to the Fire Services, the fires that ravaged many villages were in remission on Sunday, the Fire Service said.

However, on the Peloponnese Peninsula in southwestern Greece, where evacuations were carried out from a number of villages on Saturday, fires were still burning on Mani, Ilia and Messenia.

Over 56,000 ha were ravaged over the past ten days in Greece, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

The average area lost to forest fires there between 2008 and 2020 was 1,700 ha.

The Brussels Times