Greece: Hundreds rescued by sea as more people flee wildfires

Thousands of people fled wildfires burning out of control in Greece and Turkey on Friday, as a protracted heatwave turned forests into tinderboxes and flames threatened populated areas, electricity installations and historic sites.

On the Greek island of Evia, the coastguard mounted a major operation to evacuate hundreds of people by sea, using patrol boats as well as fishing and private vessels to rescue residents and vacationers from encroaching flames overnight and into Friday.

Dozens of other villages and neighbourhoods were emptied in the southern Peloponnese region and just north of the Greek capital, Athens, as blazes raced through pine forests.

“We’re talking about the apocalypse, I don’t know how to describe it,” Sotiris Danikas, head of the coastguard in the town of Aidipsos on Evia, told state broadcaster ERT, describing the sea evacuation.

Coastguard spokesman Nikos Kokkalas told ERT that 653 people had been evacuated from beaches in northeast Evia after all other means of escape were cut off by the fires.

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