On the Greek island Evia a massive forest fire continues to burn for the eighth day in a row as firefighters and locals attempt to battle the blaze.
The out of control wildfires have forced thousands of residents to leave their homes behind amid what Prime Minister Kryriakos Mitsotakis has called a “nightmarish summer”.
This is what you need to know.
The fire on Evia, the second largest island in Greece and situated off the eastern coast of Central Greece, began on Tuesday 3 August and is the most severe of the 580 fires that have broken out across Greece since June.
The fires came after the country faced the highest temperatures it has seen in three decades, with the heat reaching as high as 45C across multiple days.
The high temperatures, which came off the back of an already scorching hot summer for Greece, sparked fires in the dry forests across the country.
Local officials say that not enough help has been supplied to fight the fires, stating that parts of the island of Evia have already been decimated.
Giannis Kontzias, Mayor of the municipality of Istiaia, in the northern part of Evia, told local news: “It’s already too late, the area has been destroyed.”
While the Mayor pleaded for more help from the likes of water-bombing planes and helicopters, Civil Protection Chief Nikos Hardalias said that the use of these planes faced a number of difficulties, including poor visibility caused by the fires.
Are residents being evacuated?
More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from the island as firefighters struggle to keep the fire under control. Authorities have said that over 570 firefighters are battling with the blaze in Evia.
President of Monokaria, a village in Evia, Klelia Dimitraki said: “It is a holocaust. All the villages, the whole area is finished, finished.
"All we are saying today is that we are fortunate to be alive.”
Vasilikia, a resident of the island, told local news: “I feel angry. I lost my home… nothing will be the same the next day.
“It’s a disaster. It’s huge. Our villages are destroyed, there is nothing left from our homes, our properties, nothing.”
Another resident, Mina, said: “[It’s] like a horror movie.
“But not this is not the movie, this is real life, this is the horror that we have lived with for the last week.”
A Greek coast guard boat patrolling the Evia shortline late on Sunday also rescued 23 people that were trapped on the beach.
The coast guard said that three patrol boats, four navy vessels, one ferry, two tour boats, plus fishing and private crafts, were on hand and ready to evacuate more residents from the northern seaside village of Pefki.
Where are the fires?
The massive forest fire on the island of Evia has brought the most destruction. Fires which broke out in locations like Crete and Zante were quickly brought under control.
Other huge fires threatening the country include the burning forests and farmlands in the region of the Peloponnese, and another blaze situated near the northern suburbs of Athens and Mount Parnitha.
The Overseas Security Advisory Council states that citizens should exercise “extreme caution” in Evia, the area of Ancient Olympia in Ilia, Eastern Mani, Fthiotida, and around Kapandriti and Polydendri in the northern suburbs of Athens.
According to the Greek fire prediction map, around 10 per cent of the map is under the Very High Risk (Category 4) umbrella.
These locations are:
- North Aegean Region (Samos Prefecture, Ikaria Prefecture)
- South Aegean Region (Rhodes, Karpathos, Kos, Kalymnos)
- Region of Crete (Heraklion Prefecture, Lassithi Prefecture)
- Region of Ionian Islands (Kefalonia, Ithaca, Zante)
- Region of Western Greece (Prefecture of Ilia, Prefecture of Achaia)
Most of the rest of the country is either under category 3 or 2.
Are other countries helping?
A number of countries around the world have responded to the emergency in Greece, including help from France, Germany, Egypt, Switzerland, Spain, and the UK.
Help from other countries include personnel, equipment and aircrafts to battle the fires.
On Sunday, Serbia announced that it would be sending 13 vehicles with 37 firefighters, and three firefighting helicopters, to Greece.
British firefighters landed in Greece on Sunday, led by officers from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS).
MFRS Chief Fire Officer Phil Carrigan said: “Our Greece counterparts are struggling to deal with the scale of the wildfires. These fires are devastating the communities and putting lives at risk and it is only right that we as a country assist.
“The team of 21 firefighters will offer professional and technical skills to our friends and colleagues in Greece at a time when they need us most.
“I have no doubt that our teams will do all they can to assist our colleagues in Greece, along with their communities, during these devastating wildfires.
“I am extremely proud that we and other Fire & Rescue Services from across the country have been able to step up and mobilise a team within 24 hours of the initial request.
“It is by no means a surprise – helping people is what we do and our desire to help will not be limited by borders.”
EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “We are mobilising one of Europe’s biggest ever common firefighting operations as multiple fires affect several countries simultaneously.”
Greek Prime Minister Kryiakos Mitsotakis Tweeted: “On behalf of the Greek people, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the countries that have sent assistance and resources to help fight the wildfires.
“We thank you for standing by Greece during these trying times.”
Is it safe to travel to Greece?
With wildfires still out of control in some areas, it is currently illegal to enter forests, national parks and nature areas in Greece until Friday 13 August at 6am at the earliest.
Tourists have also been hit with a number of restrictions due to the increase of Covid-19 cases around the country.
Until Friday 13 August, a night time curfew will be in place, as well as a ban on music on two popular tourist islands, Zakynthos and Crete.
The Civil Protection Agency said: “We call on the residents and visitors of these areas to fully comply with the measures to limit the spread of the virus.”
Greece, including its islands, are on the UK’s amber travel list, which means that those returning from this location that are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine at home upon their arrival - but they will still need to take a Covid-19 test on or before day two.