Massive wildfires hit Greek seaside resorts sending terrified Brits fleeing in 44C Charon ‘heat storm’

SIX seaside resorts in Greece have been evacuated as raging wildfires erupt during Europe’s 44C “heat storm”.

The massive blaze started in the village of Kouvaras – 30 miles from the Greek capital of Athens – forcing hundreds to flee.

Footage showed helicopters flying through a massive cloud of thick smoke

EPAThe blaze started in Kouvaras – 30 miles from the Greek capital[/caption]

“It’s a difficult fire, the winds are really strong, with gusts reaching up to 37mph,” Yannis Artopios, a firefighters’ spokesman, said.

“We are in the middle of the period of fighting fires. The conditions expected will be particularly difficult and favour forest fires.”

Like most of the Med, Greece has been gripped by a heatwave for the past week – with the mercury hitting 44C in some parts of the country.

Seven water-bombing aircraft, four choppers and a huge crew of 150 firefighters are fighting the flames on two fronts.

The team are also being helped by 30 colleagues from Romania.

Footage showed helicopters racing through a massive cloud of thick smoke.

A Brit holidaymaker told The Sun: “It was scary as the fire spread very quickly.

“We were watching the fire from when we spotted the smoke initially and quickly realised we should leave the area.

“Mostly we’re concerned about all the people who may have lost their home to the fire and the animals in the area.”

The wildfire burnt through brush and spread south toward the Attica region and the resorts of Lagonisi, Anavyssos and Saronida – areas with thousands of seaside holiday homes.

Thick smoke also blocked traffic on the roads around Kalyvia.

Authorities told residents to leave the burning area – and monks were evacuated from a local monastery.

A forest fire also erupted in strong winds near the Isthmus of Corinth, close to the popular beach town of Loutraki – where more evacuation orders have been put in place.

More than 1,000 kids have been forced to flee a holiday camp in the area.

In Athens – where temperatures hit 39C on Saturday – the Acropolis was shut during the hottest hours for three days in a row.

In southern Europe, forecasters have predicted temperatures could pass 46C.

Weather experts have declared 2023 an El Niño year – a natural phenomenon that occurs cyclically and causes fluctuations in the global climate.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said it will raise temperatures around the world, and the effect is likely to continue for the rest of the year.

The current bout of heat belongs to a weather system originating in North Africa – an anticyclone dubbed “Charon”.

Charon refers to a character from Ancient Greek mythology – and follows on the heels of another high pressure weather system, Cerberus, responsible for last week’s sweltering heat.

Holidaymakers and residents across the Mediterranean are being warned to avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine as the mercury rises in countries including Italy, Spain, France and Greece.

Health officials are reminding people to stay hydrated and seek shade from the sun, with reports of people fainting in the heat.

Red weather alert warnings are in place in 16 cities across Italy, including Rome.

A red alert suggests the heat is high enough to pose a health risk to the whole population – not just vulnerable groups like the elderly and very young children.

It comes after at least three people are believed to have died in Italy’s smothering heat last week.

It comes after at least three people are believed to have died in Italy’s smothering heat last week.

The extreme weather caused the death of a 44-year-old man who collapsed while painting a zebra crossing in Milan at 40C.

He was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.

And two brothers, aged six and seven, died after they jumped into a reservoir in Manfredonia in southern Italy, reportedly to cool down.

The scorcher also sparked wildfires in the Spanish island of La Palma, leading to the evacuation of more than 4,000 people.

The UK Met Office said Brits would not experience similar heat this summer – saying there was “no forecast signal” for temperatures to reach the heatwave the UK felt last year.

BBCHigh temperatures are forecast across the Mediterranean this week[/caption]

ReutersResidents have been evacuated as wildfires rage during the heatwave[/caption]

EPAGreece has been gripped by a scorching heatwave since last week[/caption]

EPAA raging fire burns next to electricity pylons in the Kouvaras area in Attica[/caption]

ReutersHorses being evacuated from a riding centre as a wildfire burns in Kalyvia[/caption]

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