Hundreds of Greek firefighters were battling a huge blaze on Monday which has killed at least 20 people over the past ten days, Europe’s deadliest wildfire so far this summer as record-setting heatwaves unleash blazes across the continent.
The fire which began near the city of Alexandroupolis has raged uncontrolled in northeastern Greece’s Evros region, turbocharged by near-gale force winds and high temperatures. All but one of the victims killed so far were irregular migrants hiding in the forest, Reuters reported.
“It is the definition of what we call a megafire,” Government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis told a regular briefing.
The European Union backed Copernicus Climate Change Service said the Evros blaze had burned more than 77,000 hectares of land, making it one of the biggest on European soil in years.
Marinakis said the country’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection minister and other senior government ministers had visited the area to assess the damage.
Lawmakers were expected to discuss the impact of the devastating fires and state preparedness in parliament on Thursday.
A wildfire on the outskirts of Athens which began last Tuesday had abated, the fire brigade said.
Scores of people have had to flee their homes across Greece as hundreds of wildfires erupted across the country in the second major fire outbreak of this summer.
In July, some 20,000 foreign tourists were evacuated from the island of Rhodes where a wildfire burned resorts and hotels.