Firefighters in Greece are battling outbreaks of wildfires on the outskirts of Athens and the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
One man died and residents of several villages in southern Greece have been forced to flee their homes as the forest fires raging in the region are aggravated by strong winds and high temperatures.
The blaze outside the capital spread quickly on a hillside and blanketed parts of the city in thick smoke.
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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asked citizens not to panic, he said “Everybody needs to stay calm”. The Greek government has requested assistance from other European countries. France says it is going to send two firefighting aircraft following the call for help.
RT reports: Tsipras said that he asked the air force and military forces to help fight the fire, and sought assistance of other EU countries, which could provide with four extra fire-fighting aircraft.
The fire department said that about 300 firefighters with over 100 fire engines, a dozen airplanes and six helicopters were doing their best to prevent the flames from spreading into the capital.
Earlier, four villages located near the town of Monemvasia had to be evacuated due to the raging wildfire.
“It’s hellish right now, there are hundreds of pockets of fire,” Monemvasia Mayor Iraklis Trichilis told Skai television.
Kythira, a popular island destination for tourists, has been left with no power “probably until Sunday,” according to Adamantia Koroni, deputy head of a local hoteliers’ association.
A resident of the coastal town of Neapoli told AFP about the evacuation of the town, which included two summer camps and a healthcare center, and explained that “We can only see two meters ahead of us.”
“Things are very bad,” Peloponnese Governor Petros Tatoulis told state television. “The situation is critical. We are working to prevent casualties.”
Fire department spokesman Nikos Tsongas warned that “the winds are strong and are not expected to weaken. There could be further damage,” according to AFP.