Authorities have evacuated nearly 2,500 people from the Greek island of Corfu as the heat-battered nation is “at war” with wildfires. And the nation’s prime minister has pointed to the climate crisis as the reason for the disaster.
Climate crisis already here
About 2,400 visitors and locals were evacuated from Corfu between Sunday 23 and Monday 24 July, a fire service spokesman said.
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned parliament on Monday that there are “another three difficult days ahead”. Meteorologists have forecasted Greece’s heatwave will last through the week. He went on to say that the country is “at war” with the wildfires and “exclusively geared” towards fighting them, adding:
The climate crisis is already here, it will manifest itself everywhere in the Mediterranean with greater disasters.
Of course, alongside the threat and trauma to humans, wildfires have also had an immeasurable impact on wildlife and other animals.
Tens of thousands evacuated
Greece has been sweltering under a lengthy spell of extreme heat. High temperatures exacerbated wildfire risks, leading to authorities evacuating locals and visitors.
Tens of thousands of people have already fled blazes on the island of Rhodes. Kelly Squirrel, a transport administrator from the UK, told Agence France-Presse that police had ordered people from her hotel on Rhodes to evacuate. She added:
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We had to keep walking… So we walked for about six hours in the heat.
Around 30,000 people fled Rhodes over the weekend. It is the island’s largest-ever wildfire evacuation.
Meanwhile, several travel companies have halted their inbound tourist flights to Rhodes. Some have also started helping to ferry tourists home.
First Spain, now Greece
Greece is not the only country facing a heatwave. Italy, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, and other countries around the Mediterranean have experienced intense heat in July. Other countries worldwide have too. The UK has escaped the heat due to jet streams causing low pressure over the country.
In May, the Canary reported on the UN’s predictions of “record global temperatures”. It said at the time that this was due to the emergence of the El Niño weather pattern. As was widely reported, the UN’s predictions appeared to come true as Earth’s hottest day was broken several times in a row in early July.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said during the country’s early-onset wildfires in March 2023 that they showed the “climate emergency exists”. Now, with Greece experiencing its own wildfire disaster, there’s no doubting Mitsotakis’s claim that they show the climate crisis is already here.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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