Sat. May 25th, 2024

Greece has escalated its wildfire alert status to “high risk” after a series of blazes erupted across the nation, announced the civil protection ministry on Sunday. Within a 12-hour period between 0300 GMT and 1500 GMT on Saturday, a total of 71 fires ignited in agricultural and forestry areas, as disclosed by the ministry, which oversees responses to environmental crises.

Although most of the fires were swiftly contained, one blaze persisted in Lasithi on the island of Crete, continuing to burn as of Sunday, according to statements from the fire department. In the midst of the inferno, three individuals sustained minor injuries, the fire department confirmed.

The ongoing threat is compounded by forecasted strong winds, reaching speeds of up to 60 kph (37 mph) until Tuesday in various parts of Greece, thereby heightening the risk of fire outbreaks, cautioned the ministry. Consequently, areas including the Athens region, the central areas, the Cyclades islands, and Crete will witness an elevation of civil protection services to level four, indicating a significant risk of fires, the ministry clarified.

The Athens Observatory reported a record average winter temperature of 11.8 degrees Celsius (53.2 Fahrenheit) in Greece, underscoring concerns over an alarming drought level. Temperatures have soared above seasonal norms since the commencement of April, peaking at 31 degrees Celsius in Chania, Crete, on Tuesday.

Last summer, Greece, akin to numerous Mediterranean regions, endured an extensive heatwave, resulting in 20 fatalities and the scorching of nearly 175,000 hectares (430,000 acres) of land in devastating fires that swept across the country. The specter of such catastrophic events looms large as Greece confronts the escalating threat posed by wildfires amid adverse weather conditions and heightened environmental vulnerabilities.

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