UPDATE 2 - Situation remains critical at national park north of Athens amid wildfire

UPDATE 2 - Situation remains critical at national park north of Athens amid wildfire

209 fires have broken out in Greece in last 48 hours, says minister


By Ahmet Gencturk

ATHENS (AA) - The situation remains critical at Mt. Parnitha National Park, where a wildfire was raging for a second day, Greece’s minister of climate crisis and civil protection said Wednesday.

“The speed of response was the maximum possible, but owing to the gusty winds and the terrain of the area, it expanded swiftly,” Vassilis Kikilias said at a news conference.

He said a special fire brigade team that deals with arson crimes along with the police and the National Intelligence Service (EYP) are investigating the cause of the fire in the northeastern Evros region.

Earlier, the Greek Supreme Court also urged regional authorities to investigate the cause.

The National Fire Service was called to intervene in 355 forest fires, noted Kikilias, adding that in the last 48 hours, 209 new fires had broken out.

Meanwhile, the fire, which already prompted the evacuation of several settlements including Agia Paraskevi, Agios Yannis Rossos, Dardiza and Menidi, has destroyed at least 10 homes, according to public broadcaster ERT.

In addition to three nursing homes and a monastery, the Amygdaleza refugee camp, which houses 600 migrants, was also evacuated as a precautionary measure, it said.

Authorities and firefighters told ERT that the strong winds and rugged terrain are severely hampering efforts to get the fire under control.

Meanwhile, smoke from the Greek wildfires has reached Italy and Malta, according to satellite images released by the country's weather agency.

Air quality is reportedly decreasing in the two Mediterranean countries due to the high concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 microparticles.

A fire that broke out Saturday in the area of Alexandroupolis is raging in the western direction and one that broke out on the island of Evia remains out of control for a second day.

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