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Firefighters try to put out a fire as flames spread over a highway during a wildfire on August 5 2021 in northern Athens , Greece. People were evacuated from their homes after a wildfire reached residential areas of northern Athens as record temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit). Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Firefighters try to put out a fire as flames spread over a highway during a wildfire on August 5 2021 in northern Athens , Greece. People were evacuated from their homes after a wildfire reached residential areas of northern Athens as record temperatures…

Southern Europe burns

A heat wave is scorching the eastern Mediterranean like never before. The European Union Emergency Management Service shows a large number of active fires in…

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A heatwave is scorching the eastern Mediterranean like never before. The Emergency Management Service of the European Union shows a large number of active fires in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Albania, Tunisia or Algeria. But it's not just about fires: Greece has reached a record temperature of 47.1 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) in the north of the country and a low of 36 (97) in the south.

In Greece alone, there have been 81 different fires in 24 hours, including several in Athens. Dozens of citizens have had to be evacuated in various areas of the country and many have seen the flames engulf their homes. Data collected by satellites confirm an increased risk of fires in various parts of Europe.

In southwestern Turkey, residents have seen fires consume hectares of forest for a week. The fire has affected areas of tourist complexes, which have had to evacuate thousands of people. Thousands more have lost their homes and one of the fires threatens a thermoelectric plant.

Climate change

In the last five years, fires have increased in Turkey and this year's are the worst in the country's history. It shares the same suffocating heatwave with Greece. Maximum temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) have been experienced on the Turkish coasts, far from the climate those who live there are used to.

Fires are a frequent occurrence in Mediterranean Summers, but there are more and more days when an extreme risk of fires is detected. The increased incidence points directly to the eastern Mediterranean and Iberian Peninsula, that is, Spain and Portugal.

It cannot yet be said that there is a direct relationship between this heatwave and climate change, but experts agree the exceptional temperature records are part of the increased frequency of extreme weather events that are expected. More heatwaves happening more often and of longer durations.

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