The two pilots, aged 34 and 27, died when a fire-fighting plane crashed during a mission on the Greek island of Euboea. This was announced by the General Staff of the Hellenic Air Force. The Defense Ministry in Athens ordered a three-day mourning for the armed forces. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also canceled a trip to the Republic of Cyprus planned for Wednesday, his office said.
State television released a video purporting to show the crash of the Greek Canadair CL-215 aircraft. You can see how the machine sheds water, flies to the side, loses altitude and hits the ground with the right wing. Then flames and smoke rise. The accident happened near the village of Platanisto in the mountains of Karystos on the south coast of Euboea.
More than 100 airplanes and helicopters
Although more than 100 firefighting planes and helicopters have been in action for days, the fires continue to rage in numerous regions of Greece. The fire risk is also extremely high this Tuesday, the civil defense announced. Firefighters from several EU countries are helping the Greeks. Turkey and Egypt have also sent firefighting planes and helicopters.
The situation in the southeast of the holiday island of Rhodes is bad. Strong winds blow there and fan the flames again and again. Several houses on the island’s mountains burned down on Monday, state television reported. Local reporters fear the fires could threaten hotel properties again. Tens of thousands of tourists and residents were recently brought to safety on Rhodes.
The damage on Rhodes is already great. Around ten percent of the island’s hotels were damaged over the weekend, according to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Most of these tourist facilities are located south of the Lindos region.
On the holiday island of Corfu, the fire brigade managed to contain a fire. Around 1,000 tourists who had been taken to safety gradually returned to their hotels, the local state regional broadcaster ERA-Corfu reported on Monday evening.
Many Mediterranean countries are suffering from heat waves
Other countries in the Mediterranean region are also struggling with heat and drought. At the beginning of the week, there was a high risk of forest fires in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In Malta, the high temperatures also led to power outages, some of which lasted up to 36 hours. State power company Enemalta blamed the high temperatures for damaging many of its underground cables.
Longest heatwave since records began
The Red Cross warned of the danger of old ammunition explosions in light of the heat wave and forest fires. In former war zones, the detonators of duds could be set off by very high temperatures, said Erik Tollefsen, weapons expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The same applies to ammunition that has not been cleared at military firing ranges and abandoned ammunition depots, which are often set up in remote areas, Tollefsen told the German Press Agency.
Meanwhile, the temporary end of the heat wave in Greece is approaching – on Thursday. Strong winds are expected to cool down to 35 degrees. For twelve days, the thermometers in most regions of the country have been around 40 to 45 degrees. That will then be the longest heat wave, lasting more than two weeks, since there have been measurements in Greece, meteorologists said.
Before the cooldown comes, there will be one final heat climax. Especially in the west of the country, a wind coming from Libya is expected for Tuesday and Wednesday: It’s a hot, dry fall wind – the notorious “Livas”. Meteorologists described the phenomenon as extremely dry and as hot as air from a hair dryer.
sti/uh/mws/kle (ap, dpa)