Goves, Greece | On Sunday, the 12th day of wildfires in Greece and Turkey, thousands of displaced people on the Greek island of Yuboa saw the fires that engulfed their villages and lands as “living dead.”
While most fires were under control in Turkey on Sunday, the disaster on the island of Yuboia, the second largest in Greece, was the most alarming in the country.
“As far as we can see, the fires are not close to being contained,” the mayor of Mantua, Evia municipality, told Sky TV.
During the six days of fire, this tongue between the Attica and the Aegean Sea provided an apocalyptic panorama. Along the roads, residents sprayed their land with water while fires engulfed areas of dense trees.
Greece and Turkey have been experiencing an unusually hot wave for almost two weeks. Eight people in Turkey, two in Greece, as well as dozens of hospital patients were on fire due to the burning temperatures.
According to Greek firefighters, at the gates of Athens, a disaster that destroyed dozens of homes and businesses brought relief Sunday.
On both sides of the Aegean Sea, firefighters are still battling fires in the Mugla region of Turkey and on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, where the situation stabilized Sunday.
According to NTV, after the villages of Mani and Messinia in Greece, six neighborhoods were preemptively evacuated in the Turkish city of Yatagan.
The main nightmare of the Greek fire brigade remained on the mountain island of Avia on Sunday, which traditionally attracts Greek and foreign tourists.
“We experienced fires, but the situation was unheard of,” lamented Nippula Papayonou, a resident of the village of Gowes, who did not care about the high fires.
Despite the rough terrain, the AFP team found that about 500 firefighters were on fire from east to west, covered in dense smoke and cooled by gray rain. .
Among them were about 200 firefighters from Ukraine and Romania, fortified by seven water bomber planes and helicopters, according to the Greek fire service.
But due to the lack of wind direction, dense smoke and visibility, Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Defense Nicos Hardalius considered it “difficult” to use air resources.
“The forces are not enough,” said Yuboa vice-governor Giorgos Celtizidis. “We are currently fighting the Titanic,” he said.
According to him, at least 35,000 hectares and hundreds of houses were burned.
“Abandoned in the Hand of God”
Estimated at 30 km, “The front is very large. We are trying to save the village, but the roads are not enough, ”lamented Nikos Papionov. “It’s dramatic. We all end up at sea.”
Nearly 2,000 islanders were evacuated and relocated to hotels.
At Pefki Beach, where 350 additional residents were evacuated on Sunday, ferries and military ships waited to bring the elderly and disabled on a regular basis.
As the fires moved towards the town of Istia, devouring houses and pine forests, a resident of Iraklis estimated on Open TV that “40,000 people will die and live in the next few years due to the destruction of this area.”
“We don’t have a job for the next 40 years,” said Yannis Selimis, who lives in Gauss.
In a village where many live far from their land, the young man said, “There is no state. When the people leave, the villages burn down (…) We are left in the hands of God ”.
“North Evia has almost been wiped off the map,” said Nasos Iliopoulos, a spokesman for the main opposition party Syriza. “It’s sad to see so many days without fires out of control,” he said of “serious responsibilities.”
According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), more than 70,000 hectares were burned in Greece in 2021, up from 56,000 in the last 10 days. Nearly 1,700 hectares were burned during these 10 summer days between 2008 and 2020.