Wildfires: At Least 65 Killed In Algeria, Greece and Italy Burn
By Staff, Agencies
Exhausted Greek firefighters battled blazes for a ninth day on Wednesday amid sweltering temperatures that also helped stoke wildfires in Algeria, where at least 65 people died, and in southern Italy.
From Turkey to Tunisia, countries around the Mediterranean have been seeing some of their highest temperatures in decades, as the United Nations climate panel this week warned that the world was dangerously close to runaway warming.
Greece, in the grip of its worst heatwave in three decades, evacuated around 20 villages on the Peloponnese, though ancient Olympia, site of the first Olympic Games, escaped the inferno.
About 580 Greek firefighters, helped by colleagues from France, Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic, were battling blazes in Gortynia, near Olympia.
Flare-ups continued to ravage Evia, Greece's second-largest island, just off the mainland east of Athens and scene of some of the worst devastation in the past week.
"If helicopters and water bombing planes had come right away and operated for six, seven hours, the wildfire would have been put out in the first day," said cafe owner Thrasyvoulos Kotzias, 34, gazing at an empty beach in the resort of Pefki on Evia.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called it a "nightmarish summer" and has apologized for failures in tackling some of the more than 500 wildfires that have raged across Greece.
The wildfires are not limited to the Mediterranean region. California has suffered the second-largest wildfire in its history that by late on Sunday had covered nearly 500,000 acres.
The UN climate panel published a report on Monday that said greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were high enough to guarantee climate disruption for decades if not centuries.