Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Greek prime minister warns of dangerous summer for wildfires


ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday the country faced a dangerous summer for wildfires, with a prolonged drought and unusually strong winds contributing to tinderbox conditions.
Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean country, but hotter, drier and windier weather that scientists link to the effects of climate change has increased their frequency and intensity.
This weekend, dozens of fires broke out across Greece, including two close to the capital, Athens.
“It is a summer which is expected to be particularly dangerous … the most difficult times are still ahead of us,” Mitsotakis said as he addressed his cabinet.
“We had a very difficult June in terms of weather conditions with high drought and unusually high gusts of wind for the season,” he said, praising firefighters for managing to contain the weekend fires.
Mitsotakis said less than 100,000 square metres (24.7 acres) of land had been burned in the two fires, and that the damage was contained due to the response by state emergency authorities.
Greece has scaled up its preparations this year by hiring more staff and increasing training, after forest fires last year forced 19,000 people to flee the island of Rhodes and killed 20 in the north of the country.
“Our arsenal might be stronger, but nothing – and that is seen in practice – beats being prepared, and for the public to also be involved in this collective defence against natural hazards,” Mitsotakis said.

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