Greece struggled to contain a wildfire west of Athens that burned forests for a fifth day on Friday as another heat wave swept through the country.
Firefighters, backed by air and water bombers and reinforcements from several countries including Cyprus, France, Israel and Italy, tried to control the blaze that broke out in the wider Athens area on Monday, destroying homes and forcing evacuations.
More than 100 homes and businesses have been severely damaged by this wildfire and another near Athens that authorities put out earlier in the week.
The government announced relief measures for affected households on Friday, including financial aid and subsidies for renting houses.
Two other fires in the forests on the island of Rhodes and in the district of Laconia in southern Greece were brought under control on Friday.
Climate Crisis Minister Vassilis Kikilias urged people to remain on their guard. The risk of wildfires in the coming days will remain high and more heat is forecast after a previous heat wave.
“We are going through three very difficult days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with extreme weather conditions and very high temperatures followed by strong winds,” the minister said, adding that after a short respite, another heat wave is forecast from the middle of next week.
With temperatures expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday and Sunday during the peak summer tourism season, the Culture Ministry said all archaeological sites, including the Acropolis monument, will close between 12 noon and 5:30 p.m. (0900-1430 GMT) until July 23.
“The heat is too much, the heat wave is terrible,” said Italian tourist Michele Albano.
Greece recorded its longest and deadliest heatwave in July 1987, while extreme heat swept through the country for 11 days in the summer of 2021, sparking devastating wildfires near Athens and on the island of Evia.
Forecasters have warned sweltering temperatures will last until the end of the month.
“It seems that this time the record of 1987, where temperatures were also very high for about 12 or 13 days, will be broken,” Antonis Lalos, head of Greece’s National Weather Service, told Greek radio on Friday.
Scientists have long warned that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, will make heat waves more frequent, severe and deadly. They have urged governments to slash emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe.