In Italy, thousands of tourists are being cared for in makeshift shelters after being evacuated from villages in the Puglia region because of wildfires. Such was the speed and intensity of the flames that many fled to safety from their deckchairs clad only in their swimming costumes. The emergency services used patrol boats and helicopters to whisk around 4,000 residents and tourists away from the flames. A make-shift shelter was set up in the village school at Peschici, but the local mayor said more could have been done: “Help was very late in arriving. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying how things are,” said Francesco Tavaglione. Two deaths have been confirmed so far. Many more people have lost their homes and livelihoods. “I watched my home go up in flames,” said one man. “It was worse than a battlefield.” The flames reached as far as the San Nicola beach, forcing hundreds to seek safety in the water. It has been pointed out that if the sea had not been nearby, then the death toll may have been much worse. Wildfires are common in Italy in the summer, but are spreading faster than usual due to the current heat wave.
Italy and other European countries remain on fire alert