NEA PERAMOS, Greece (AP) — New evacuations were ordered Wednesday as wildfires raged near the Greek Capital after a second heat wave hit the Mediterranean country from the west following days of record-high temperatures that baked southern Europe.
In a round-the-clock battle to preserve forests, industrial facilities, and vacation homes, evacuations continued for a third day along a highway connecting Athens to the southern city of Corinth.
Water-dropping planes and helicopters resumed operation at first light.
Fires continued to burn on three fronts around Athens, gutting homes and farms, with strong gusts of wind advancing the flames over hilly terrain as temperatures approached 40 degrees Celsius (104F).
At Nea Peramos, a coastal industrial area west of the capital, winds picked up and rekindled a fire that threatened homes. Five firefighting planes and eight helicopters assisted ground crews.
Temperatures in southern Greece are expected to reach 44C by the end of the week, in the second heat wave to hit Europe’s Mediterranean south in two weeks – prompting a renewed warning against extreme summer heat.
The World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations body, said preliminary global figures showed the month of June to be the hottest on record.
“The extreme weather, an increasingly frequent occurrence in our warming climate, is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said Wednesday.
“This underlines the increasing urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible.”
Countries with borders on the Mediterranean Sea weren’t alone in suffering. Authorities in North Macedonia extended a heat alert with predicted temperatures topping 43 C (109 F), while Kosovo also issued heat warnings.