Wildfires: EU mobilises planes, helicopters and firefighters
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Wildfires: EU mobilises planes, helicopters and firefighters

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The European Commission announced on Monday that it had increased the number of planes, helicopters and firefighters sent to Greece, Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey to help fight wildfires.

In total, the EU has so far mobilised 14 fire-fighting planes, three helicopters, around 1,300 fire-fighters, and 250 vehicles to assist these countries, the EU executive said in a statement.

In Greece, nine aircraft (provided by France, Sweden, Croatia, Spain, and Cyprus), nearly a thousand firefighters, and 200 vehicles have been deployed.

Several states (France, Germany, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia) indicated over the weekend that they were preparing to send additional teams of firefighters to Greece. They will join rescue workers already sent by Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Romania, and France.

The aid, provided by several Member States including France, is being mobilised under the EU’s civil protection mechanism and the Commission is covering at least 75% of the transport costs.

In Italy, two Canadair aircraft from France were sent to the affected areas last week.

Two helicopters to support operations in Albania were also sent by the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, while Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Austria were deploying firefighters to North Macedonia.

The EU also sent several fire-fighting planes to Turkey, which is suffering the worst fires in a decade that has ravaged forests and farmland as well as populated areas on the coast.

In Greece, hit by the worst heatwave in three decades, firefighters are battling for the seventh consecutive day against the giant blaze on the island of Evia, 200 km from Athens, where village after village is besieged by flames.

“We are putting in place of the EU’s largest-ever fire-fighting plans, to fight various fires raging simultaneously in several countries. This shows the need to make crisis response a priority at the European level,” commented EU Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic, thanking those countries that have contributed to the effort.

The Brussels Times