© Reuters. Flames rise as a wildfire burns in the village of Limni, on the island of Evia, Greece, August 6, 2021. REUTERS/Nicolas Economou
By Alexandros Avramidis and Giorgos Moutafis
ATHENS (Reuters) – Flames swept through a residential town outside Athens overnight as wildfires burned across Greece for a fifth day on Saturday, and hundreds of people were evacuated by ferry from the island of Evia east of the capital.
The fire on Mount Parnitha on the outskirts of Athens has forced the evacuation of thousands of people since late Thursday, with emergency crews facing winds and high temperatures as they battle to contain its spread.
More than 700 firefighters, including reinforcements from Cyprus, France and Israel, have been deployed to fight the blaze, assisted by the army and water-bombing aircraft.
Overnight on Saturday, strong winds pushed the blaze into the town of Thrakomakedones, where it burned homes. Residents had been ordered to evacuate and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
“It was unbelievable, what we saw over there,” said Faik Zaimi, an employee at a children’s summer camp in the nearby town of Kapandriti. “Thankfully we saved it (the camp), but we don’t know if it’s over yet.”
Wildfires have erupted in many parts of the country amid Greece’s worst heatwave in more than 30 years, tearing through tens of thousands of acres of forestland, destroying homes and businesses and killing animals. Temperatures have been over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) all week.
Fires on Evia, Greece’s second biggest island, are scattered from one end on the Gulf of Euboea across to the other, facing the Aegean Sea.
Hundreds of people, including many elderly residents, were evacuated by ferry late on Friday from the town of Limni on Evia as flames reached the shore and the sky turned an apocalyptic red.
Authorities have battled more than 400 wildfires across the country in the last 24 hours, with the biggest fronts still burning in the north of Athens, Evia and areas in the Peloponnese including Mani, Messinia and ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games.
One man died on Friday after being injured by electricity pylon in a fire-stricken area near Athens, and at least nine others have been injured, authorities said.
In neighbouring Turkey, authorities are battling the country’s worst-ever wildfires. Flames sweeping through its southwestern coastal regions forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. In Italy, hot winds fanned flames on the island of Sicily this week.
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