Water-bombing planes, helicopters and hundreds of firefighters are battling forest fires near Greece’s capital, Athens, as the country reels under a severe heatwave.
The blaze on Tuesday spread at the foot of Mount Parnitha, 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Athens, destroying dozens of homes and sending thick smoke over the city. Firefighting efforts continued on Wednesday morning.
The fire service said about 300 people had to be evacuated because of the approaching flames. Police reported helping 70 people to escape from homes threatened by fire.
Local media reported dozens of children had been rescued from a holiday camp near the Athens suburb of Varympompi, while the motorway linking the capital with the north and south of the country was cut for safety reasons.
The fire brigade said seven water-bombing aircraft, five helicopters, 70 fire trucks and more than 500 firefighters were battling the flames in a zone that includes the former Greek royal family’s summer palace of Tatoi and several monasteries.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias listed 40 active fires on Tuesday.
In the southern Peloponnese region, 300km (186 miles) from the capital, three villages were evacuated after a fire started on Tuesday afternoon, while on the Aegean island of Kos, firefighters were also tackling a blaze.
More than 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of pine and olive were burned out by a fire that erupted on Saturday near the city of Patras, 200km (125 miles) west of Athens. It was brought under control on Monday.
A blaze on the southeastern island of Rhodes has been burning since Sunday with firefighters struggling to gain the upper hand.
As the heatwave scorching the eastern Mediterranean intensified, temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) in parts of Athens.
Besides Greece, the extreme weather has heightened deadly wildfires in Turkey, as well as blazes in Albania, Italy and across the region.