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Monday, May 27, 2024

France and Italy send firefighting planes to Greece as wildfires burn

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Italy and France are each sending two firefighting planes to Greece to help it cope with wildfires burning on multiple fronts around Athens, with more extreme heat on the way.

The planes and their teams of firefighters are part of an EU civil protection mechanism, and they will join some 30 Romanian firefighters already stationed in Greece as part of a seasonal EU fire programme, European officials said.

Wildfires on Tuesday continued to burn out of control to the north and west of Athens, including a blaze near the resort town of Loutraki, where more homes were damaged and evacuations were expanded.

Several smaller fires also broke out nearer the capital, where winds remained moderate but scrub and forest land has been dried out by extreme temperatures last week.

Police spokeswoman Constantina Dimoglidou said several roads near the fires were closed to allow faster access by emergency services.

Greece also activated a rapid mapping evaluation system, which uses EU satellite data to assess fire damage, for the three large wildfires that burned outside Athens for a second day.

A second heatwave is expected on Thursday, with temperatures as high as 44C expected in central and southern parts of the country by the end of the week.

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