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Emergency declared in Greece due to massive wildfires

A state of emergency has been declared in Greece as more wildfires broke out

A state of emergency has been declared in Greece's Varybobi area and the wider municipality of Acharnes in the north of Athens after at least 114 wildfires broke out in a span of just 24 hours.

"We give a titanic battle in multiple fire fronts," Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias told a press briefing on Wednesday evening, as wildfires raged across the country.

The biggest of these blazes were on the island of Evia, in ancient Olympia, although though wildfires have also ripped through Messinia in the Peloponnese, and in Chalkidiki on the northern side of Greece, reports Xinhua news agency.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from more than 10 villages on the island of Evia, as the wildfire was spreading on four major fronts in the north part of the island, burning houses and forest land since Tuesday evening.

Coast guard vessels along with private boats assisted to transfer 90 residents and tourists of the coastal town of Rovies, in Evia, who were sent to the beach for safety in the port of Edipsos, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Similar scenes were unfolding at the same time in the municipality of ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in northwestern Peloponnese.

"Seven fires broke out in Ilia prefecture on Wednesday, four of which (are) in the broader area of the town and ancient site of Ancient Olympia," Hardalias said.

Firefighters backed by aircraft dropped water to stop wildfire from burning the 2,800-year-old ruins, one of the most revered sites of antiquity, as alert 112 messages were issued to residents to evacuate eight villages.

Forest fires are common during Greece's hot, dry summers, but nothing has approached the scale of the last four days.

According to the National Observatory of Athens, fires that broke out since the beginning of August have burned more than 50 per cent of the land surface usually destroyed in an entire fire season in Greece.

In particular, fires in Attica, on the island of Rhodes and Evia, and in Eastern Mani in August destroyed nearly 6,000 hectares.

In 2020, fires burnt 10,376 hectares of land, and that number was 9,405 hectares in 2019.