Greek PM Cancels Holiday As Major Island Fire Prompts Evacuations
Athens, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 14th Aug, 2019 ) :Hundreds of villagers were evacuated Tuesday and the Greek prime minister cancelled a vacation as scores of firefighters battled a major wildfire on the country's second-largest island of Evia, authorities said.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis cut short a vacation on his home island of Crete, and Greece requested EU assistance, officials said, as crews fought to protect the villages of Kontodespoti, Makrymalli, Stavros and Platana after clearing them of residents.
The fire on Greece's second largest island after Crete, located northeast of Athens, started near a protected wildlife habitat at about 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and was quickly spread by strong winds, the semi-official news agency ANA said.
Over 200 firefighters were fighting the blaze backed by 75 fire trucks, five water-bombing helicopters and six planes.
The crews faced rugged terrain, violent wind gusts, hills and poor visibility, complicating air operations.
- 'You can't see the sun' - "The flames are 20-30 metres (65-100 feet) high.
.. You can't even see the sun," Panos Agiannitis, a volunteer firefighter at the scene, told Athens municipal radio.
"I feared for my life... You could feel the heat 250 metres away." "The only way for this fire to be extinguished is when there's nothing left to burn," he said.
The local Panagia Makrymallis monastery was evacuated first as a precaution, TV SKAI said.
ANA said the pine forests on Evia are part of the "Natura 2000" European network of protected areas and habitats.
Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend, beset by gale-force winds and temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
Other fires on Tuesday were contained on the island of Thassos, the central region of Viotia, and in the Peloponnese region.