Under the effect of an exceptional heat wave, Greece and Turkey are on fire.
Greek firefighters continued this Thursday morning to fight two worrying fires in Olympia, archaeological site where the first Olympic Games were held in antiquity, and on the island of Euboea, in the west and east of the country hit by a hundred fires.
Read also Heat wave and fires: why the countries of southern Europe are suffocating
After having burned about twenty houses, "the fire front is now heading towards the area of Lala", a mountainous forest area, north-east of the ancient site, specifies the prefect Nektarios Farmakis, interviewed by the Greek press agency ANA.
The village of Ancient Olympia and six other neighboring towns were evacuated the day before.
Thursday morning, more than 170 firefighters, helped by about fifty vehicles and 6 helicopters and water bomber planes were still battling, assisted by reinforcements from the army.
But the wind strengthened this morning and the air resources were struggling to fly over the fires, because visibility is limited due to the thick smoke.
Terrible images and we tremble for these sites which are part of the treasures of humanity, full solidarity with Greece and the Greek people #Grece #greecefire #Peloponnese #Olympia https://t.co/sSJfCf90fC
- olivier duperon (@ODuperon) August 4, 2021
Equivalent forces were deployed on the huge island of Euboea, 200 km east of Athens, the scene of a violent and uncontrolled fire which took hold on Tuesday on mountainous and wooded terrain, dried up by scorching temperatures. of the last days.
"We are making a titanic effort"
Hundreds of houses have burned down as well as more than 25,000 hectares of pine forest, according to initial estimates.
About 90 people were evacuated by sea on Wednesday.
Thursday morning, two additional villages were evacuated, according to the ANA.
The fire would evolve on four fronts, one of which is moving uncontrollably towards the Saint-David monastery, which was forcibly evacuated, explains Giannis Tsapourniotis, mayor of Mantoudi, a village in Evia.
🇬🇷 GREECE: Violent fire in progress on the island of Evia, north of Athens.
Villages are evacuated and several firefighters are injured (I Kathimeriní) .pic.twitter.com / D0rG7ygS1n
- French Info (@InfosFrancaises) August 4, 2021
Firefighters said Thursday morning they had to manage 92 forest fires in the last 24 hours in Greece, out of the 118 counted Wednesday evening by the Deputy Minister of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias. "We are making a titanic effort on several fronts," he said during a press briefing. Another fire was underway in Messinia, in the south of the Peloponnese, where six towns were evacuated as a precaution, according to firefighters.
In Turkey, it has been a week since the turquoise coast and its green hills have been ravaged by flames.
An ecological disaster: around 100,000 hectares of crops and pine forests have been reduced to ashes, eight times more than the annual average over the period 2008-2020, reports Le Monde.
These unprecedented fires are linked to the extreme heat wave hitting southern Turkey, linked to global warming according to experts.
"I'm going to cry with rage"
"I will cry with rage," writes Muhammet Tokat, the mayor of Milas (Mugla region) on his Twitter account.
This seaside town in southern Turkey is home to a major thermal power station, threatened by fire.
16.54 - Alevler termik santrale dayandı… pic.twitter.com/jxy8VcMzFZ
- Av. Muhammet Tokat (@ MuhammetTokat48) August 4, 2021
The thermal power station stores thousands of tons of coal.
Local authorities assured that the hydrogen tanks used to cool the plant, which runs on fuel and coal, had been emptied and filled with water as a precaution.
During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the plant was in the process of total evacuation.
"But there is a risk that the fire will spread to the thousands of tons of coal which are inside", worried to the journalists a regional official, Osman Gurun.
Muhammet Tokat, Mayor of Milas: “We are currently in an area between Türkevleri and Çökertme (…) The fire is not over.
All our tears, cries and complaints have gone unheeded.
There is still no air intervention. ”Pic.twitter.com/b9ti6MAY4K
- Bahar Kimyongür (@Percligia) August 2, 2021
Criticized on his management of these fires, which have already killed eight people, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gave a live television interview on Wednesday evening, admitted that the plant “risked being destroyed by fire”.
The opposition criticized President Erdogan for failing to maintain his fleet of water bombers and for having been slow to accept international aid.
Tourists and residents evacuated by boat
Since the first fires started, eight people have died and hundreds more injured.
Many villagers have lost their homes and livestock.
In one week, the 5,000 firefighters mobilized managed to control 130 fires, say the authorities.
However, strong winds, heatwaves and drought are constantly fueling new outbreaks: more than 180 fires have ravaged forests and agricultural lands, as well as inhabited areas on the Mediterranean coasts of Turkey since last Wednesday, especially in the regions of Antalya, Mugla and Isparta.
Tourists and residents have run to escape wildfires that are burning in Turkey's Mugla province.
Read more here: https://t.co/5eQEfYSrW4 pic.twitter.com/9KaPoqoVjX
- Sky News (@SkyNews) August 2, 2021
The fires also seriously affected tourist sites which had recently been able to resume their activities after months of restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Bodrum, a famous seaside resort, thousands of locals and tourists were evacuated by boat as the roads were blocked by flames.
Milas, August 4, 2021. The Turkish Coast Guard evacuates villagers by sea. Yasin AKGUL / AFP YASIN AKGUL
According to the European Union's satellite monitoring service, the "radiative power" of the fires in Turkey has reached an intensity "unprecedented" since 2003.