Greek firefighters battled to bring under control two major fires raging near Olympia and on the island of Evia on Thursday as the country swelters in a record-breaking heatwave.
More than 170 firefighters, around 50 trucks, six helicopters and water-bombing aircraft were deployed near the ancient archeological site, the birthplace of the Olympic games, on the Peloponnese peninsula.
After destroying around 20 houses, “the fire’s front is now heading towards Lalas,” a wooded mountainous area to the north west of Olympia, local official Nektarios Farmakis told media.
Olympia, usually thronging with tourists at this time of year, as well as six nearby villages, were evacuated the day before. A similar number of firefighters were also battling to contain a blaze on Evia, some 200 kilometres east of Athens.
At least 150 houses were destroyed on the island as the fire surrounded a monastery and a dozen villages.
The mayor of the town of Mantoudi, Giannis Tsapourniotis, said the fire was moving on four fronts, with one particularly difficult to control near the Saint David Monastery, which was evacuated on Wednesday.
The fire brigade said Thursday that it had had to deal with 92 forest fires over the past 24 hours, on top of the 118 from the previous day.
Neighbouring Turkey is also suffering its worst fires in at least a decade, claiming the lives of eight people and forcing hundreds to evacuate in southern areas popular with tourists.