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Map shows ‘apocalyptic’ wildfires spreading across Greece

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‘Apocalyptic’ wildfires have been ravaging Greece, including tourist hotspots Kos, Chios and Crete.

Weeks of searing heat and drought have turned parts of the country into tinderboxes, with locals and tourists evacuated as firefighters battle scores of blazes.

Large swathes of Greece, especially areas along the coast, have a ‘high’ or ‘very high risk’ of wildfire outbreaks, according to forecasters.

In the Aegean island of Kos, a wildfire broke out in Antimachia early Monday afternoon as strong winds pushed it towards the holiday resort Kardamaina.

Some 10,000 residents and tourists were evacuated, spending the night in schools, stadiums and hotels in Antimachia, Mastichari and Marmari Ekathimerin reported.

‘Kos is being tested,’ said South Aegean regional governor Giorgos Hatzimarkos according to Greek radio station Skai 100.3.

A map of Greece with some sections shaded orange or red.
Greece’s Forest Fire Risk application service shows regions where there is a ‘risk’ of fire in orange and ‘very high risk’ in red (Picture: Beyond Centre of EO Research & Satellite Remote Sensing)

‘Kos will emerge victorious from this great challenge.’

Clare Smith, 38, was holidaying with her family when she saw ‘thick plumes of black smoke’ rising into the sky.

‘The sky is covered in smoke. You feel like you’re in the apocalypse, or some sort of war film,’ she told Sky News.

Brian McAteer, who had flown in from Glasgow for a holiday, spent ’13 hours on the turf’ of a football stadium as the fire raged only 4km away.

‘But we had to get out,’ he said, claiming it was ‘one toilet to 7,000 people’. Photographs from others sheltering in the stadium show people sleeping on cardboard boxes and yoga mats.

‘Totally inhumane and a total s**tshow,’ added McAteer.

Brian McAteer ? 13 hours outside on the turf at kos football stadium - totally abandoned by TUI after the fire evacuation in kos football stadium - fire was 4km away btw - but we had to get out. I Had to question Jane here as we were supposed to be 5 star. ?? - 1 toilet to 7000 people - total f?kin nightmare. Totally inhumane and a total shit show TUI sorry - no communication at all Jane giving it Glastonbury here. KOS WILDFIRE
Brian McAteer says he had to stay overnight in a football stadium after his hotel was evacuated (Picture: Brian McAteer)
Brian McAteer ? 13 hours outside on the turf at kos football stadium - totally abandoned by TUI after the fire evacuation in kos football stadium - fire was 4km away btw - but we had to get out. I Had to question Jane here as we were supposed to be 5 star. - 1 toilet to 7000 people - total f?kin nightmare. Totally inhumane and a total shit show TUI sorry - no communication at all Jane giving it Glastonbury here. KOS WILDFIRE
Tourists have since been let back into their hotels (Picture: Facebook/Brian McAteer)
Brian McAteer ? 13 hours outside on the turf at kos football stadium - totally abandoned by TUI after the fire evacuation in kos football stadium - fire was 4km away btw - but we had to get out. I Had to question Jane here as we were supposed to be 5 star. - 1 toilet to 7000 people - total f?kin nightmare. Totally inhumane and a total shit show TUI sorry - no communication at all Jane giving it Glastonbury here. KOS WILDFIRE
Brian said it was ‘one toilet to 7,000 people’ (Picture: Facebook/Brian McAteer)
A volunteer stands on a roof as flames rise from a wildfire burning in Stamata, near Athens, Greece, June 30, 2024. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis
The island mayor called the work of firefighters and volunteers ‘superhuman’ (Picture: Reuters)

Holiday operators say anyone affected by the wildfires should follow the guidance of their hotels and local officials and alert them if they have been evacuated.

The UK Foreign Office does not currently advise against travelling to Greece but warns that ‘wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable’.

Kos mayor Theodosis Nikitaras said evacuees faced an ‘extremely difficult’ night, sharing a photograph of hundreds of people sleeping inside a football stadium in Antimachia on Facebook.

But as ‘another day dawned’, Nikitaras confirmed the once rapidly advancing fire is ‘now under control’. Guests are now ‘returning safely to their hotels’.

‘The efforts of all who operated during the night were superhuman,’ he said of firefighters and volunteers.

Fire officials said the fire was contained at 6am, with the main road to Kardamena reopened. The last of the flames have been ‘surrounded’ by firefighters.

A firefighter works to extinguish a wildfire burning in Keratea, near Athens, Greece, June 30, 2024. REUTERS/Elias Marcou
Wildfires will become more and more common in the country as climate change depends, researchers say (Picture: Reuters)

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A destroyed home is seen amidst a burnt area after a wildfire at Keratea area, southeast of Athens, Greece, Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Homes have been gutted by the fires (Picture: AP)

The fire in Chios continues to burn after first erupting at around 11am yesterday in the Metohi area. A man, 63, has been arrested on suspicion of arson for allegedly starting the inferno by burning crops on his farm.

He will appear in court today and was fined nearly €9,000.

In Crete, exhausted firefighters are battling the fire for a second day as water-scooping helicopters fly above them. While still burning, the blaze has been restricted to a ravine.

Nearly 1,2000 acres of Zakynthos, also known as Zante, was scorched by a wildfire on Sunday.

Dozens of wildfires flared across the weekend. Two large forest fires broke out on Sunday and gobbled up 24 acres of woodland, houses and cars in Attica, not far from Athens.

Another fire broke out in a recycling factory in Ritsona near the island of Evia, with black smoke from burning tyres and discarded mattresses filling the sky.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nikolas Georgiou/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock (14565574aj) Firemen and helicopters try to control a large wildfire in Keratea. Many homes were evacuated and houses were burnt during the wildfire that took place in Keratea, an area south of Athens. Large wilfire in Keratea - Attika, Greece, Athens - 30 Jun 2024
Fire officials are hopeful that the blazes will be extinguished within days (Picture: Nikolas Georgiou/ZUMA Press Wire)
KERATEA, GREECE - JUNE 30: Smoke rises from a house during a wildfire in Keratea region near Athens, Greece on June 30, 2024. (Photo by Costas Baltas/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Smoke rises from a house during a wildfire in the Keratea region near Athens on Sunday (Picture: Anadolu)
A firefighting helicopter flies over a firefighter and volunteers trying to extinguish a wildfire burning in Keratea, near Athens, Greece, June 30, 2024. REUTERS/Elias Marcou
Water-scooping helicopters have soared across Greece for days (Picture Reuters)

Houses, businesses and chapels in Serifos, meanwhile, were torched by a fire on Saturday.

While those have since been tamed, three more wildfires were sparked yesterday.

For Greece, wildfires are becoming an annual occurrence. The country is one of many straddling the Mediterranean and Middle East that are seeing their climates dry far faster than most of the world as climate change worsens, researchers say.

Scenes of exhausted firefighters battling blazes as water-scooping helicopters soar above them is a preview of what is to come, they say, as lands like Greece are ‘among the most affected by forest fires’.

Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis knows this all too well. ‘We have had an exceptionally difficult June regarding weather conditions, with high levels of drought and unusually strong winds for this season,’ he said Monday.

‘It is a summer which is expected to be particularly dangerous [for wildfires],’ Mitsotakis said, adding: ‘The most difficult times are still ahead of us.’

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