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Firefighter plane crashes in Greece as fire spirals out of control and new evacuation orders issued | Wagon Radio 720

RHODES, Greece (AP) – Two pilots were feared dead after a Hellenic Air Force water cannon crashed as it flew into wildfires in southern Greece on Tuesday as authorities grappled with fires that have raged across Greece for days as temperatures returned from a heat wave.

A video on state-run ERT television showed a CL-215 aircraft ejecting a large amount of water over Evia Island, with its wingtips apparently getting caught in tree branches. Moments later, it disappeared into a deep fold of ground, from which a fireball erupted.

The Air Force said a search and rescue operation was underway, but the plane did not have a launcher, so the lives of the two pilots were bleak.

A third consecutive heatwave pushed temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) across parts of Greece on Tuesday as people fled fires that had spiraled out of control for days.

A fire department spokesman said the worst blazes were on the southeastern island of Rhodes and the northwestern island of Corfu, both popular tourist destinations.

“On the other side, we have to deal with many cases of reignited fires,” said Ioannis Artopios.

Four villages on the island of Rhodes were ordered to evacuate on Tuesday as fires that had burned for eight days continued to move inland, consuming mountain forests, including parts of a nature reserve.

Five more people were ordered to evacuate on Corfu and overnight in Evia.

On Rhodes, many desperate residents wrapped wet towels around their necks to avoid the scorching heat and used shovels to repel blazes approaching their homes, while firefighting planes and helicopters resumed spraying water at the first light.

“On day 12, in extreme conditions of heat and high winds, we are fighting tirelessly on dozens of forest fire fronts…The Greek Fire Service has fought more than 500 fires, more than 50 a day,” said Vassilis Kikilias, Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection.

Authorities said more than 20,000 people, most of them tourists, were evacuated on the island over the weekend when fires erupted in two coastal areas in southeastern Rhodes.

Among them was Serbian basketball star Filip Petrushev, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, who was vacationing in Rhodes with his partner Tiana Smakovich.

In a series of online posts, Smakovich described Petrushev and his desperate efforts to escape the fire.

Smakovic captioned the video of the fire, saying, “The fire came so close that I had to flee.” “We ran as far as we could, suffocating in the smoke…we finally reached safety.”

The European Union has sent 500 firefighters, 100 vehicles and seven planes from 10 member states, while Turkey, Israel, Egypt and other countries have also sent aid.

Contributing countries included Italy, which was coping with fires and extreme weather in its own country.

Palermo International Airport was temporarily closed as wildfires loomed in Sicily. But in northern Lombardy, Italy, a 16-year-old girl was killed in a scout camp after a powerful storm caused flooding and power outages.

In Athens, authorities have reopened the afternoon closing hours of the ancient Acropolis as part of a broader heat response.

EU officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires across the continent, pointing to 2022 as the second worst year on record after 2017.


Follow AP’s coverage of climate issues at https://apnews.com/climate-and-environment.

https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-new-evacuations-ordered-in-greece-as-high-winds-and-heat-fuel-wildfires/ Firefighter plane crashes in Greece as fire spirals out of control and new evacuation orders issued | Wagon Radio 720

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