Updated Thursday, August 5, 2021 –

There are eight dead and dozens hospitalized in southern Turkey, while Greece does not register any victims

DIRECT GREECE | The fires continue to advance and threaten the ruins of Olympia
  • Fires Fires ravage Greece and Turkey: “Everything I had has completely burned up”

A firestorm has been devouring Greece for days and threatens to scorch part of the ruins of Olympia in a wave of unprecedented fires, under temperatures above 45 degrees and with the Greek authorities asking for international help, before the impossibility of appeasing some outbreaks.

More than 110 fires They have devastated the country’s forests in the last 24 hours, and there are another 180 in Turkey. In Athens a cloud of ash has covered the city for days. The fire hits precisely the most tourist areas: in addition to the capital, the island of Euboea, 200 kilometers east of Athens, and the archaeological city of Olympia.

It is the biggest heat wave in 30 years, in the words of the Greek minister himself, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Quenching the fire has become mission impossible since the smoke prevents the visibility of the pilots of the helicopters in charge of extinguishing them.

In Athens, where temperatures have reached 45 degrees, the fire has already destroyed 1,250 hectares of pine trees and two populations have been evacuated. It is miraculous that there are no fatalities.

This, moreover, occurs at the peak of the tourist peak season. The country has been working for months to recover part of the tourism lost due to the pandemic, since 15% of GDP depends on this sector. These days tourists have found a city hidden by a layer of smoke.

Ana and Guillermo, two Spaniards who returned from the Cyclades after having spent a few days on vacation, relate how, upon arrival at the port of Rafina (the one closest to the airport), “the ashes fell from the sky. “ “The feeling is sad, at three in the afternoon the restaurants are usually full of Greeks, but they were empty. There is a cloud of ash that covers everything,” says this Valencian lawyer living in Madrid.

Proteger Olimpia

Especially disturbing is the situation in the area surrounding the archaeological site of ancient Olympia, where Greek firefighters try to protect the archaeological remains where the first Olympic Games of Antiquity were held, in the west of the Peloponnese peninsula.

The town, usually packed with tourists at this time of year, and seven other nearby towns have been evacuated.

The outbreaks are out of control, despite the fact that firefighters and pilots have been trying to put them down for days and Greece has requested European help through the emergency mechanism. “We are making a titanic effort”, has summarized the head of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias.

On the island of Euboea, neighbors and tourists have been evacuated by boats, leaving behind an eerie landscape of flames: there are razed pine forests, the firefighters have miraculously emerged alive.

“We are in a phase of absolute climate deregulation,” the Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, lamented this week. Now “there is no more talk of climate change but of climate threat,” he added.

In 2018, another wave of fires left 80 dead and nearly 200 injured just outside of Athens. Dozens of people were trapped in the area near the Rafina port and had to throw themselves into the sea.

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