Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

Ancient Olympia fire: Latest maps as fires rage near birthplace of Olympics

Greece heatwave: Wildfires leave areas scorched in Rhodes

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Two fires are currently being tackled, one of which threatens the Archaeological site of Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Temperatures of more than 40C have been recorded in Greece and strong winds have fanned the fires across land over the course of the past three days.

Some 170 firefighters, 50 trucks, six helicopters, and water-bombing aircraft are trying to dampen the blaze, which has destroyed 20 houses so far.

Six nearby villages have been evacuated, and the fire’s front is now heading toward Lalas, a mountainous wooded area northwest of Olympia, according to local officials.

The villages of Herakleia, Pournari, Pelopio, Platanos, and Kafkania have all been evacuated due to the blaze.

Reinforcements arrived from Cyprus and France and two aircraft from Sweden are expected later on Thursday.

Olympia, where the games were held from 776 BC to 393 AD, was also hit by wildfires in 2007, with the flames taking dozens of lives but sparing the ruins of ancient venues.

It is thought the ancient site might now be out of harm’s way, with authorities saying “forces fought an all-night battle to keep the archaeological town intact”.

A separate fire on Evia, some 200km east of Athens, is also spreading quickly.

Church bells rang well into the night to alert locals to leave as the fire approached.

At least 150 houses are thought to have been destroyed so far as the fire surrounded villages.

A total of 81 fires broke out in Greece on Tuesday, making it one of the worst days in recent years.

Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, 41 more fires broke out across the nation, the Greek government stated.

Greece’s fire brigade said Thursday that it had had to deal with 92 forest fires over the past 24 hours, on top of the 118 from the previous day.

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Deputy minister for civil protection Nikos Hardalias said: “We’re waging a battle of the titans.

“The hardest is still to come.”

Skyrocketing temperatures that have been prevailing in Greece for days along with locally strong winds have caused a dangerous mix of hot and dry conditions that enable the spread of fires.

Global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of fires, with hundreds of fires seen across the globe so far this year.

European Union President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter: “Following the situation with great concern.

“European solidarity is at work to fight these terrible fires.”

Neighbour Turkey has also experienced harrowing fires this week, with eight people thought to have died so far.

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