Hundreds of Greek firefighters battled a massive blaze on Monday that has killed at least 20 people in the past 10 days – Europe’s deadliest forest fire so far this summer, Reuters reported.
The fire, which started near the town of Alexandroupolis, has been raging out of control in the northeastern Greek region of Evros, fueled by near-gale force winds and high temperatures. All but one of the victims who have died so far are illegal migrants hiding in the forest.
“This is the definition of what we call a megafire,” government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis told a regular briefing.
The European Union’s Copernicus climate change agency said the Evros fire had burned more than 77,000 hectares of land, making it one of the largest on European land in years.
Marinakis added that the country’s climate crisis and civil defense minister and other senior ministers visited the area to assess the damage.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss the impact of the devastating fires and the state’s preparedness in parliament on Thursday.
The forest fire on the outskirts of Athens that started last Tuesday has subsided, the fire department said. Dozens of people have been forced to flee their homes in Greece as hundreds of wildfires raged across the country.
In July, about 20,000 foreign tourists were evacuated from the island of Rhodes, where a forest fire affected resorts and hotels.