May 29, 2024

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Forest fires and smoke visible from space

Forest fires and smoke visible from space

Firefighters are still on the front lines of the blaze, which has been raging in the country for more than a week, on the large island of Rhodes, Corfu and Euboea, east of Athens.

On the ground, the fight against forest fires continues in Greece. And even from the sky, the devastation is clearly visible. Satellite images show the extent of the damage, with acres of scorched vegetation. They testify to the intensity of the flames and especially the huge smoke emitted from the fire and the extent to which it traveled over hundreds of kilometers.

The Copernicus Agency, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, released images this Monday of the island of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean Sea, where a fire led to the evacuation of more than 32,000 tourists, “the largest operation (of its kind) ever carried out in Greece”.

This Dodecanese island is thus seen under thick smoke and the mountains are covered with charred vegetation.

Many leads

“Although they are not unusual in southern Europe, what is unusual about the fires in Rhodes is their intensity and the speed with which they spread,” Douglas Kelly of the UK’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology told AFP.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis explained that Greece is “(…) at war against fires” and “we have three more difficult days” due to high temperatures.

In Corfu, the most touristic island in the south of Albania, wildfires led to the “precautionary evacuation” of nearly 2,500 residents and tourists overnight from Sunday to Monday. Firefighters are also battling Euboea, a large island east of Athens.

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A video taken by the International Space Station and released this Sunday shows these different eruptions over Greek territory. The fire, fueled by strong winds, has already destroyed thousands of hectares of forest and vegetation without causing any casualties at this stage.

Exceptional heat wave

Greece has suffered one of the longest heat waves in recent decades. The thermometer reached 46.4°C in Gideon on the Peloponnese peninsula on Sunday, short of reaching the national historical record of 48°C.

The National Meteorological Institute (EMY) on Monday announced that the heat wave will intensify next day and especially on Wednesday, with temperatures reaching 44°C.

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