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Sweltering Europe braces for more fires

Breaking Earth News
European Continent

Three heat-related deaths were reported in Greece overnight as southern Europe blistered under a devastating heatwave and environmentalists blamed many of the fires raging in Italy on arsonists. Greek authorities said two elderly women were found dead in the Peloponnese village of Diakofto where a fire was raging for a third day. A 76-year-old man died on Wednesday evening in another fire in the village of Mamoussia. The blaze destroyed homes there and in two other towns, Pyrgaki and Melissia. The inferno broke out in the area some 200km from Athens on Tuesday and has yet to be brought under control. A dozen other fires were still burning across the country, much of which wilted under temperatures of 45 C. There were major blazes on the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos in the Ionian sea, at Chios island in the Aegean, Hydra south of Athens and in Kastoria and Kozani, in the north. Two Greek Canadair pilots have already died while trying to douse a forest fire, as well as three firefighters. In Italy, at least 4500ha of protected areas have burned in the past three weeks. "Most of the fires of the past few days have been of a criminal nature. It is well known that fire almost always serves to get rid of trees and other natural obstacles to make way for new hotels, villas or pastures." In Bulgaria, some 950ha in the centre and northeast were on fire, prompting Sofia to seek aid from the European Union, NATO and Russia. A state of emergency was declared Wednesday in the central Kazanlak region and northeastern Dabovo. Temperatures have dropped, but winds are still fanning the fires. In Slovakia, a fire sparked by lightning raged overnight through the Slovensky Raj national park in the country's east. Croatia's Dalmatian coast was ablaze with dozens of fires, and 1400 tourists and residents were evacuated on Wednesday from the island of Solta, where some 400ha of forest and olive groves burned down and homes were threatened. Worst-hit Hungary, where up to 500 people may have died last week from heat-related causes, was enjoying a significant drop in temperatures with the welcome arrival of a cool front.

Hundreds killed in European heatwave

While Britain wades through its washed-out summer, hundreds of lives in Eastern and southern Europe have been lost in a week of stifling temperatures and forest fires.
An estimated 500 deaths were attributed to the hottest weather for a century in Hungary, while temperature records were also set in Bulgaria and Greece. The mercury soared to 45C (113F) in Athens yesterday.
Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia each declared a state of emergency as hospitals struggled to cope with victims of heat-related conditions.
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