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EU firefighters rush to Greece amid savage heatwave

A military Chinook helicopter flies over the area of Magoula, 25 km southwest of Athens on July 18, 2023
A military Chinook helicopter flies over the area of Magoula, 25 km southwest of Athens on July 18, 2023 Copyright Spyros BAKALIS / AFP
Copyright Spyros BAKALIS / AFP
By Euronews with AP/AFP
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Firefighters are battling round the clock to save homes, forests and industrial sites as intense wildfires rip through the country.

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Fire crews from around Europe headed to Greece on Thursday to battle devastating wildfires, sparked by a gruelling heat wave in the Mediterranean.

An explosive mix of strong winds and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius is hampering Greece’s efforts to bring the fires under control, as authorities brace for more heat that is likely to worsen the tinderbox conditions across the country.

Wildfires burned for a third day west of the capital Athens on Wednesday, destroying forests and homes and spurring evacuations. 

Firefighters are now locked in a round-the-clock battle to prevent more destruction. 

On the island of Rhodes, a virgin forest in the centre of the island is burning with seven aircraft and hundreds of firefighters operating in the area.

In parts of Attica where the fire has been extinguished, many residents are angry, saying the authorities did not do enough to save their homes.

“I believe they just let it burn. The fire went through the community. Thank heavens nothing serious happened to my house, but for others, it is difficult at the moment," said one man.

"As you can see everything is burnt. Our municipality was nowhere to be seen. The fire department came towards the afternoon and only one helicopter dropped water only once," said a woman.

With weather conditions likely to become even more difficult in the coming days, with a second heatwave forecast to start on Thursday, several countries are sending Greece planes and crews to help battle the blazes the fires.

Aircraft from Italy and France joined firefighting efforts on Wednesday, and crews from Romania, Poland, and Slovakia, have been deployed to help battle the blazes.

Southern Europe's second heat wave in as many weeks has brought extreme temperatures to Mediterranean countries. 

Temperatures in southern Greece are expected to reach 44 degrees Celcius by the end of the week.

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