In Algeria, 65 people have so far been killed in connection with fires in the country, state television reported on Wednesday. 37 civilians and 28 soldiers died in the flames. 12 injured soldiers are therefore also in critical condition. In Greece the situation has calmed down slightly, at least for the time being, in Turkey strong winds are increasing the risk of fire.
In Algeria, more than 100 fires have broken out, 86 of which have still not been extinguished, the state news agency APS reported, citing the responsible authority for forests in the country. The region of Tizi Ouzou east of the capital Algiers is particularly affected – there are currently 30 major fires there.
In Greece, the situation with the major fires has meanwhile eased slightly. On the second largest Greek island of Evia, there were still many, but smaller, fires on Wednesday. Because the smoke was no longer so strong, the fire-fighting planes and helicopters were able to extinguish better in the morning, as reported by the Greek media. The weather also provides a glimmer of hope: rain has been announced on the island in the evening. People hope that they will really come and be strong enough.
The fire continues to rage on the Peloponnese peninsula, but the situation there was also a little better on Wednesday, as the Greek fire brigade chief Stefanos Kolokouris told the TV station Skai. This is not least due to the many international helpers. A total of 578 firefighters with 181 vehicles are deployed in the region. They are supported by seven fire-fighting aircraft and seven fire-fighting helicopters.
Forest fires in Greece: Here people are brought to safety with ferries(01:35)
In Turkey, meanwhile, strong winds and temperatures of around 40 degrees are a problem for the emergency services. Two fires in the mountains of the municipality of Köycegiz in Mugla in western Turkey have gotten out of control again, said the head of the local fire brigade, Bahattin Yavuz, of the German press agency on Wednesday. But villages are not threatened. The fires in the inaccessible area would be fought from the air and with forces on the ground. In the province of Antalya, a new fire broke out near a residential area in the city of Manavgat, said a spokeswoman for the dpa.
Two weeks after the fires started, most fires are under control. Nonetheless, sparks can always jump and cause fires due to the extreme drought combined with winds. “There is a risk of further fires by October,” warned Doganay Tolunay, a forest engineer at Istanbul University.
In Italy, the fire brigade continued to fight the forest fires in the south and on the island of Sicily at night and in the morning. On the southeastern edge of the nature reserve around the Madonie Mountains, several fires blazed on the horizon at dawn, as a video by the fire department showed on Wednesday. The flames also reached the vicinity of houses or ate their way up meter-high trees. Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuanelli came to Sicily on Wednesday to see the situation. On Tuesday he was on the island of Sardinia to inspect the fire damage on the west coast.
According to its own statements, the fire brigade had more than 300 forest fire operations in the past twelve hours on Wednesday morning. Seven fire-fighting planes took off again early in the morning. In addition to Sicily, the region of Calabria in the extreme south of mainland Italy was particularly affected recently. The fire brigade already counted tens of thousands of missions this year, far more than in the previous year 2020, but slightly fewer than in the particularly difficult forest fire year of 2017.
In Calabria, the flames particularly threaten the Aspromonte National Park – a Unesco-listed geopark. The regional government called for aid campaigns and donations for the damaged farmers. The mayor of the municipality of Roccaforte del Greco, which is located in the park, had asked for it in a letter. Harvests and animals fell victim to the fires. On Wednesday, the authorities expected a heat wave for many parts of Italy with temperatures in some cases well over 40 degrees Celsius. The risk of fire persists due to the persistent drought and strong winds. In many cases, arson is the cause.
Russia and Tunisia
Forests are on fire in Russia too. Nationwide, the forest protection authority counted more than 250 fires on a total area of around 3.9 million hectares – more than the day before. This roughly corresponds to the area of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. According to the information, many fires are not even extinguished because they do not threaten villages or because extinguishing work is too expensive.
So far, twelve forest fires have broken out in Tunisia, as the state agency TAP reported, citing civil protection. Six fires have since been extinguished and there are no victims. The North African country groaned in the past few days under a heat wave of temperatures of up to 49 degrees. Other forest fires are also raging in the US state of California and in several countries in South America and Africa. (SDA / bra)