Forest fires in Greece: New hearth breaks out southeast of Athens | World information

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The Greek authorities sent dozens of firefighters as well as six water cannons and four aircraft to a wildfire that broke out on Monday morning in the Keratea region southeast of Athens.

Strong winds blowing near Sounion National Park fanned the flames and hampered the extinguishing work. Authorities issued evacuation orders for three settlements in the area.

Greece has been struck by hundreds of forest fires for about two weeks, with the flames devastating tens of thousands of acres of forest and farmland, burning homes and businesses, and evacuating dozens of villages. A volunteer firefighter has died and four have been hospitalized, including two in critical condition in intensive care units.

The fires have stretched Greece’s responsiveness to the limit, prompting the government to seek international aid. About 24 European and Middle Eastern countries sent firefighters, helicopters, planes and vehicles. Most had left by Monday, although 40 Austrian firefighters remained in the southern Greek region of Peloponnese, where two major fires have been burning for several days.

Several Mediterranean countries have suffered from intense heat and rapidly spreading forest fires in recent weeks, including Turkey, which killed at least eight people, and Italy. In Algeria, forest fires in the Berber mountain region killed at least 69 people.

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Increasing drought and heat this summer also sparked forest fires in the western United States and the northern Siberia region of Russia. Scientists say there is little doubt that climate change is leading to more extreme weather events through the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

Two major fires that broke out in early August, one on the island of Evia and one in a national park north of the Greek capital, were still smoldering on Monday, with firefighters on duty to secure their perimeters, the fire department said.

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