Greece wildfires forces evacuation of residents of Evia island

Locals carry a woman on board a ferry at the port of the village of Pefki
More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from the island of Evia

Wildfires are continuing to rip through the Greek island of Evia, prompting residents to flee to safety by sea. More than 2,000 people have already been evacuated, with elderly residents carried onto ferries.

Local officials said not enough help had been sent to fight the fires, adding that parts of the island had already been destroyed. Greece is experiencing its most severe heatwave in 30 years in which temperatures have spiked to 45C (113F).

A number of wildfires have struck the country in recent days. One blaze in the northern suburb of Athens is said to have subsided.

Heatwaves such as this are becoming more likely and more extreme because of human-induced climate change. The subsequent hot, dry weather is likely to fuel wildfires.

On Evia, a large island to the north and east of Athens, two fire fronts have destroyed thousands of hectares of land, along with a number of houses and businesses. Firefighters have been struggling to keep fires at bay in a number of villages on the island.

Images on Sunday show more people being evacuated including elderly people who were pictured being carried onto ferries. With no sign of the fire subsiding, residents and officials are calling for more help.

Giannis Kontzias, mayor of the municipality of Istiaia in the northern part of Evia, told local news: “It’s already too late, the area has been destroyed.”

He appealed for more help from water-bombing planes and helicopters. But Civil Protection Chief Nikos Hardalias said the planes faced a number of difficulties including poor visibility caused by the fires.

A local resident holds her dog that was rescued by locals during a wildfire
Residents and officials have called for more help in tackling the fires

A number of countries have responded to Greece’s call for help including France, Germany and the UK.

Late on Sunday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis¬†expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” to countries that had sent assistance. “We thank you for standing by Greece during these trying times,” he wrote on Twitter.

Elsewhere in Greece, fires in the Peloponnese region are said to be stable and fires in the northern Athens suburb have subsided. “The situation in Attica (which encompasses Athens) is better but we are afraid of the danger of flare-ups,” Mr Hardalias said.

The military are patrolling the area amid concerns that the fire could re-start. Turkey is also battling a series of wildfires, which have been labelled the worst in the country’s history. Eight people have died and thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

The country’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Pakdemirli said on Saturday that 217 fires had been contained and six were said to be ongoing.

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