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Wildfire reaches Turkey power plant, prompts evacuations

Pro-government news channel A Hbr broadcasting live from near the evacuated power plant late on Wednesday said firefighters were working inside the compound cooling equipment and dousing sparks in an effort to keep the fire away.

The channel’s crew showed an incinerated police water cannon.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis is seen through smoke from a fire north of the Greek capital Athens.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis is seen through smoke from a fire north of the Greek capital Athens.Credit:Getty Images

As the mayor announced the evacuation on Twitter, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking live on A Hbr and said the power plant was at risk of burning. Three ministers were there to oversee developments, he said, and added planes and helicopters had been there all day to fight the fires.

But the mayor said air support came infrequently and only focused on the closer flames around the plant rather than addressing the wider fires in the area that were being fanned by shifting winds. At night, air support was not possible at all and videos showed flames in the plant’s vicinity.

In Greece, coast guard vessels helped with evacuations from the island of Evia, where residents escaping fires fled to a beach for safety.

Fire crews across the country struggled amid a record heat wave to contain new blazes, including one near the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games.

The European Union sent assistance to Greece and other countries in south-east Europe that are grappling with huge fires after a blaze on Tuesday burned more than 100 homes and businesses near the Greek capital of Athens.

No deaths or severe injuries have been reported from any of the Greek fires.

Residents evacuated Greece’s southern Peloponnese region, which was facing a major fire near ancient Olympia – where the Olympics were held every four years from 776 BC for more than a millennium. The adjacent town of Ancient Olympia was ordered evacuated as a precaution, as were another seven nearby villages. The area was ravaged by major fires in 2007 that cost dozens of lives.

A dozen villages were cleared near the archaeological site where the ancient Olympic Games were held, and around 160 firefighters, with water bombing aircraft battled to save the ancient treasures.

“We’re doing our best to save this sacred place,” local mayor Panagiotis Antonakopoulos, told television station Open TV. “After human lives our priority is to save our history.”

After an all-night battle with the flames, firefighters appeared to have saved the site, with the ancient treasures out of danger, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told ANT1 television.

Several homes were burnt as well as large sections of forest on the island of Evia.

Several homes were burnt as well as large sections of forest on the island of Evia.Credit:AP

The coast guard said about 85 people were stranded on a beach near the village of Rovies in Evia, adding that private boats were also helping in the evacuation. Media reports said three firefighters suffered burns. Several homes were burnt as well as large sections of forest.

Temperatures in parts of Greece reached 45 degrees on Wednesday, in what authorities describe as the worst heat wave since 1987.

Officials in Albania said one person had died of smoke inhalation outside the southern city of Gjirokaster, where fires caused hundreds of residents to flee.

An EU disaster response group said assistance, including firefighters and water-dropping planes, were being sent from EU members to Italy, Greece, Albania and North Macedonia.

Flames burn on the mountain near Limni village on the island of Evia.

Flames burn on the mountain near Limni village on the island of Evia.Credit:AP

“Following the situation with great concern. European solidarity is at work to fight these terrible fires,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a tweet.

Reuters, AP

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