Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Heat wave in southern Europe sparks wildfires in Turkey, Italy, Greece

A record-breaking heat wave across southeastern Europe has sparked massive fires in Turkey as well as Greece and Italy, and threatened the national electricity grid in Greece.

European Union firefighters arrived in Turkey on Monday, where they joined local volunteers for the sixth day fighting a deadly wildfire off its coast, the fire that has been blamed for the deaths of eight people in recent days. There were no reports of additional deaths on Monday.

Opposition politicians in the country are criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what he deemed his sluggish and out-of-touch response to the fires.

Italian firefighters are using helicopters to fight fires on that country’s Adriatic coast and in the region of Sicily. The National Fire Brigade Corps (Vigilli del Fuoco) reports that Canadian air tankers helped fight more than 715 raging fires in the past 24 hours.

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In this photo released by Italian firefighters, a scene of a violent wildfire that burned historic pine wood in Pescara, central Italy, August 1, 2021.

The Associated Press reports in Greece, where temperatures reached 45 °C (113 °F) inland, workers with health conditions were allowed to take time off work. In addition, coal-fired power stations set for retirement were brought back into service to shore up the national grid, under pressure from the widespread use of air conditioning.

Greek firefighters fought local fires in the Greek island of Rhodes and the city of Patras on Monday.

EU data shows this year’s fire season has been one of the most devastating, with experts saying climate change is increasing both the frequency and intensity of such blazes.

Dan Mitchell, a professor of climate science at the University of Bristol, told the AP that the heatwave in southeast Europe “is not unexpected at all, and is likely to increase greatly due to human-induced climate change.”

(Some of the information in this report comes from AP, Reuters and AFP.)

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Nation World News Desk
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