Greece: Fires are raging, a Canadair crashed on the island of Euboea

RHODES (Reuters) – A water bomber has crashed on Greece’s Evia island as it battles wildfires ravaging the country for the seventh consecutive day, while hundreds of tourists forced to evacuate were forced home.

The crash of the Greek Canadair happened over the town of Karistos on the island of Euboea, near Athens, ERT TV reported, citing firefighters, who gave no further details.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has warned that Greece will go through tough times as fires destroyed homes and forced thousands of tourists to flee the island of Rhodes.

“We are all on our toes,” he said. “There is no magical defense mechanism to the situation the entire planet is facing, especially the Mediterranean Sea, which is a climate change hotspot”.

About 20,000 people had to evacuate their homes and hotels on the island of Rhodes over the weekend as a fire that started a week ago spread to the shores of Hare Island.

More than 2,000 holidaymakers left the island by plane on Monday, and new flights are due on Tuesday as many holiday companies canceled trips to Greece.

Greece is often hit by wildfires in summer, but climate change is to blame for rising temperatures in southern Europe.

Hundreds of Greek firefighters, aided by counterparts from Turkey and Slovakia, were battling a blaze approaching the villages of Gennadi and Vati in southeast Rhodes, as the blaze broke out amid hot and windy weather conditions.

Fires also broke out on the western Greek island of Corfu and on the island of Evia, near the capital Athens.

“Fires have flared up again in the country but there is no threat to any establishment at the moment,” a fire official said.

The Greek islands are a favorite summer destination for European tourists, especially those from the United Kingdom and Germany.

TUI, one of the largest travel agencies, has announced it is canceling its stays in Rhodes until Friday and is offering free cancellations and possibilities to fly to other destinations.

The mercury has crossed 44 degree Celsius in some parts of Greece and according to the weather forecast the temperature may continue to rise.

Tourism accounts for 18% of the national economy and a fifth of the jobs in the country. An even bigger trend on the Greek islands, heavily dependent on tourism.

(Reporting by Angelique Coutantou, Renée Maltezou and Karolina Tagaris French Edition Zifan Liu and Kate Entringer)

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