Greece on alert amid prolonged heatwave and wildfires

Greece is forecast to remain in the grip of a heatwave that is not expected to let up all week, with temperatures climbing above 40 degrees Celsius across the country during the day and staying there for hours.

It is even hotter in parts of central Greece and on the Peloponnese Peninsula, where high temperatures will reach 46 degrees from Tuesday to Friday, forecasters said.

The sweltering weather comes as firefighters continue to battle a major blaze on the island of Rhodes that has forced residents of several communities to flee.

Fire crews have made progress during the past day, but another village was forced to evacuate overnight as flames approached.

Smaller fires have also broken out on the Peninsula and along the Greek-Turkish border, according to the fire department.

There have been no casualties or injuries so far.

Authorities warned the fire danger will be very high even after the end of heatwave due to the country’s ongoing drought, while high winds had the potential to fan flames.

In the summer, and especially in August, strong winds known as Etesia or Meltemi blow across the Aegean. While they can be refreshing, they can also easily fuel fires, which can then quickly get out of control, as weather forecasters have pointed out on state television.

Dozens of people died in Greece in 2007 after a similar period of drought and heat followed by winds.

Meteorologists expect temperatures to drop slightly to highs of around 38 degrees by the weekend. This is also when the Etesia winds are expected to kick in.

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