Southeastern Europe is experiencing a historic extreme heat wave, with peaks of more than 45 degrees, which has unleashed forest fires throughout the region and has caused deaths, massive evacuations, the destruction of hundreds of homes and thousands of hectares of vegetation .
The European Commission has mobilized aid from several Member States. Cyprus sent two planes to Greece, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands will send two helicopters to Albania, while Slovenia will send 45 firefighters to North Macedonia, in addition to the planes sent by Spain and Croatia to Turkey.
In the last day 118 fires have been declared in Greece, where, although fortunately there have been no victims so far, thousands of hectares continue to burn uncontrollably, especially on the island of Euboea and in the Peloponnese.
This afternoon, hundreds of people were taken from their homes and hotels, many in boats directly from the beach, on the island of Euboea, where 13 towns have been evacuated, hundreds of buildings have been burned and three firefighters had to be treated for burns. mild.
The authorities are also concerned about the fire that is rapidly approaching the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held in ancient times, near which several houses have already been destroyed. Local media reported several people trapped in their homes in this area.
On Wednesday, the situation in the suburbs of Athens improved, where 1,250 hectares and hundreds of buildings burned since Tuesday, forcing millions of people to remain locked in the capital, to avoid breathing the toxic particles that floated in the air for hours. .
This unprecedented catastrophe is pushing the Greek reaction capacity to the limit due to the dispersion of the floodlights and the unflattering weather forecast. After posting a record 47.1 degrees on Tuesday, the high temperatures are expected to continue at least until the end of the week.
The fight against fires continues in Turkey, where in a week more than 170 outbreaks have been declared, the vast majority already extinguished or under control, but still with 16 active fronts in seven southern and eastern provinces of the country.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that a total of 16,000 people had to be evacuated from 3,200 homes in 28 towns.
High temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean have affected these regions of Turkey, with temperatures reaching as high as 44 degrees in the southern city of Antalya and 42 degrees in the touristy Marmaris, two of the areas hardest hit by the fires.
Seven of the eight fatalities from the fire have been registered in the Manavgat fire, in Antalya, which is still active, and one in Marmaris, in the Mugla province, where the extinction work continues with the planes sent by Spain to collaborate in an emergency for which Turkey does not have sufficient means of its own, so it has had to rent or order aircraft from Russia and Ukraine, among others.
Also in Bulgaria, where temperatures reach 42 degrees, fires have raged in recent days, destroying large areas of forests, but without causing, so far, no deaths or injuries.
Although most of the outbreaks were soon brought under control, in some cases military units and helicopters from the air forces had to be deployed, such as in the town of Dolno Selo, near the border with North Macedonia, where the fire caused by a spark of the power line destroyed 20 empty houses.
Another fire south of the capital, Sofia, came within 300 meters of the gas pipeline that carries fuel to Greece, without damaging the installation.
In Albania, a 64-year-old man died when he was hit by flames in the backyard of his house, one of many fires that has devastated thousands of hectares of forest.
The most critical situation is now in the south of the country: the Ionian coast, the tourist city of Vlora and in Gjirokastra, near the border with Greece, which the flames crossed this Wednesday afternoon. The difficulty of extinguishing the flames is due to the rugged terrain and the lack of adequate aerial means in the country, so Albania is eagerly awaiting European help.
The fires, mostly caused, have been burning entire areas of forests on the Karaburun peninsula for weeks, threatening the Pashaliman military naval base and the Llogara natural park in Vlora.
In Kosovo, a 57-year-old man died, probably suffocated, in a fire in the village of Novo Selo that has been hit by several floodlights for days amid high temperatures and strong gusts of wind.
Four fires are still active out of the 50 that have occurred this week.
A large part of the fires are attributed to citizen negligence, added to the heatwave and the wind, while the lack of means to extinguish the flames makes the situation difficult.
A dozen fires are active in North Macedonia, of which only two are controlled and, although there are several populations at risk, at the moment there are no lives in danger and no victims have been registered. The government has banned driving in forest areas.