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Wildfires still raging on Greece's Rhodes island

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-07-24 09:40

ATHENS -- Wildfires continued to rage on Greece's Rhodes Island on Sunday, forcing more evacuations as the firefighting front was reinforced by ground and air.

As a precautionary measure, a total of 19,000 people were evacuated from the fire-stricken areas, making it the largest evacuation operation ever carried out during a fire in Greece, according to the police.

Authorities and volunteers on the ground provided safe shelters to evacuees in gym facilities, conference centers, schools, and public places, along with food, water and medical assistance.

At the same time, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs activated the Crisis Management Unit to facilitate the evacuation of foreign citizens in Greece due to the ongoing forest fires and a Help Desk was set up in the island's airport to assist along with the relevant embassies.

Greek authorities placed the southern part of the island in a state of emergency, as firefighters were battling the wildfires on three fronts in the south, center, and northern part of the island for the sixth consecutive day.

The forest fire started Tuesday afternoon. A total of 266 firefighters with 49 water trucks and 16 ground teams were operating against the blaze, assisted by five water-dousing helicopters and 10 aircraft, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Greece is experiencing its worst heatwave in decades with temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees Celsius. Extremely high temperatures, combined with humidity levels, are increasing the risk of the outbreak and spread of fires.

According to the Fire Forecast Map issued by the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry, there is a very high risk of fire (risk category 5 and 4) for many places across the country next Monday including Attica, Evia, islands of the northern and southern Aegean, and Crete.

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