GOUVES, GREECE | Des milliers d’habitants désespérés de l’île grecque d’Eubée en flammes observaient comme des «morts-vivants» dimanche le brasier qui consumait leurs villages et leurs terres, au 12e jour d’une cen vague de force d’êt in Turkey.
While most of the fires were under control in Turkey on Sunday, the disaster on the island of Epoya, the second largest in Greece, remained the most worrying in the country.
“From what we can see, the fire is not close to being under control,” the mayor of Mantodi in Evia told Sky TV.
In the grip of fires for six days, this land sandwiched between Attica and the Aegean Sea presented a harrowing panorama. Along the roads, residents sprayed their lands with water, while fires engulfed the densely wooded areas.
Greece and Turkey experienced an exceptional heat wave nearly two weeks ago. The fires, fueled by high temperatures, have killed eight people in Turkey, two in Greece, as well as dozens of patients in hospitals.
Greek firefighters said the disaster that destroyed dozens of homes and businesses at the gates of Athens was quiet on Sunday.
But on both sides of the Aegean, firefighters are still battling flames in Turkey’s Mugla region and in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, where the situation stabilized on Sunday.
Six neighborhoods in the Turkish city of Yatagan have been evacuated as a precaution, according to NTV, after entire villages in Mani and Messinia in Greece.
‘Never seen like him’
The main nightmare of the Greek firefighters on Sunday remained the huge mountainous island of Evia covered with pine trees that traditionally attracts Greek and foreign tourists.
“We have seen fires, but this situation is unheard of,” regrets Nikos Papayano, a resident of the flaming village of Gouves.
Despite the rugged terrain, nearly 500 firefighters continued their fierce battle against the blaze in the north of the island, which blazed from east to west, shrouded in a thick cloud of smoke and strewn with rain of ash, according to the AFP team. .
They include about 200 firefighters from Ukraine and Romania, reinforced with seven water-propelled grenades and helicopters, according to the Greek fire services.
But due to the direction of the winds, thick smoke and lack of visibility, Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias considered it “difficult” to use the air resources.
“The forces are not enough,” Giorgos Kilatzidis, the vice-governor of Euboea, attacked. “The situation is critical right now, and we are fighting a giant battle,” he said.
According to him, at least 35 thousand hectares and hundreds of houses were burned.
Left in God’s Hands
Estimated at 30 km, “The front is very big. We are trying to save the village, but the means are not enough,” said Nikos Papayano. “It’s dramatic. We will all end up at sea.”
About 2,000 residents of the island were evacuated and moved to hotels.
On Pefki Beach, where an additional 350 residents were evacuated on Sunday, ferries and military ships were waiting to pick up the elderly and disabled who were presenting regularly.
With the flames moving toward the town of Istia and devouring homes and pine forests, Iraklis, a resident, estimated on OpenTV that “40,000 people will live as zombies in the next few years due to the devastation in the area.”
“We won’t have work for the next 40 years,” said Yiannis Slimis, a Govs resident, who is also desperate.
In the village where many live on their land, the young man believes that “the state is absent. If the people leave, the villages will burn (…) they are left to us in the hands of God.”
“Northern Evia is almost off the map,” said Nassos Eliopoulos, a spokesman for the main opposition Syriza party. “It is tragic to see so many fires out of control for days,” he said, and saw “serious responsibilities.”
More than 70,000 hectares have been burned at this point in 2021 in Greece, including 56,000 hectares in the past 10 days, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). An average of about 1,700 hectares burned during these 10 summer days between 2008 and 2020.
Seaplane crashes while operating in Greece, no injuries
Athens | We learned from Greek firefighters that a hydro-bomber plane crashed Sunday afternoon in service on the Greek island of Zante, and its pilot is safe.
The Pitzitel plane was carrying out an operation to put out a small fire on the Ionian island, west of the Greek mainland, when it crashed for some reason, according to the same source.
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