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Two dead as Greece battles spreading wildfires

Colombia declares emergency over raging forest fires
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Greece on Tuesday battled to contain wildfires around the country that have killed two people and forced widespread evacuations in the second deadly wave of blazes in a month.

Flames spread unchecked in northeastern Greece as well as the islands of Evia and Kythnos and the region of Boeotia north of Athens, amid a dangerous mix of gale-force winds and temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit).

“It’s a similar situation to July,” a fire department spokeswoman told AFP, referring to a wave in several parts of the country that left five people dead.

Over 60 fires had erupted in the last 24 hours, and six countries were sending help via the European Union‘s civil protection mechanism, the fire department said.

Some 120 firefighters from Cyprus, Romania, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany and Serbia will pitch in, fire department spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told state TV ERT.

A new fire broke out Tuesday at a landfill in the industrial zone of Aspropyrgos near Athens, covering the area in a noxious black cloud.

Late Monday an evacuation was ordered at the hospital of Alexandroupolis, a northeastern Greek port city located in an area where fires were raging for a fourth day.

The coastguard said it had moved 65 patients to a waiting ferry at the city harbour.

On the island of Evia, near the capital, officials late Monday evacuated the industrial town of Nea Artaki, where the fire has damaged poultry and pork farms.

The flames were also threatening the national park of Dadia, where the body of a man believed to be an undocumented migrant was found late Monday.

An elderly shepherd had also been found dead in the Boeotia region earlier Monday.

Dadia is one of the most important protected areas in Europe, offers an ideal habitat for rare birds and is home to the only breeding population of black vultures in the Balkans.

The Greek army said it was stepping up patrols in the area, which is also a frequent entry point for migrants.

The very hot and dry conditions which increase the fire risk will persist until Friday, according to meteorologists.

Amid a heatwave, a fire that started on July 18 and was fanned by strong winds ravaged almost 17,770 hectares (more than 43,000 acres) in 10 days in the south of Rhodes, a popular tourist island in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

Around 20,000 people, mostly tourists, had to be evacuated.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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