Greek PM warns of difficult days ahead as wildfires rage
A Turkish firefighting plane flies over a wildfire burning on the island of Rhodes, Greece, July 24, 2023. Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/Handout via REUTERS
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned of difficult days ahead on Tuesday as ministers met to discuss a response to wildfires that have destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of tourists from the island of Rhodes.
Firefighters battled blazes that have raged on the island since Wednesday and more emergency flights were due to land to fly home stranded holidaymakers.
Mitsotakis told parliament on Monday the country was “at war” and said on Tuesday the next days would be difficult, with conditions possibly improving after Thursday.
“All of us are standing guard,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting.
“I will state the obvious: in the face of what the entire planet is facing, especially the Mediterranean which is a climate change hot-spot, there is no magical defense mechanism, if there was we would have implemented it.”
An assessment by scientists published on Tuesday said human-induced climate change has played an “absolutely overwhelming” role in the extreme heatwaves that have swept across North America, southern Europe and China this month.
In Greece, a prosecutor on Rhodes launched an investigation into the causes of the fires and the preparedness and response of authorities, state broadcaster ERT said. It said about 10% of the island’s land area had burned.
The broadcaster said there were three active fire fronts on Rhodes and that fire-fighting aircraft were in operation.