Three dead as wildfires continue to rage across Greece

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Three people became the first known fatalities on Tuesday of wildfires that have been raging across Greece for a week, Reuters has reported.

Two firefighting pilots confirmed dead:

The General Air Staff Air Force confirmed on Tuesday that two pilots were killed when their Canadair CL-215 plane fighting wildfires crashed on the island of Evia, east of Athens.

The air force named the two officers as Captain Christos Moulas (34) and his co-pilot, Second Lieutenant Periklis Stefanidis (27).

State broadcaster ERT showed footage of the plane dropping water over a fire, striking a tree before crashing into a ravine and bursting into flames. The plane had no ejection system.

Tributes have since been made to the two pilots by Greek and global leaders, including Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“They gave their lives saving lives; proving how risky their daily firefighting missions are. But also how great the self-sacrifice is of the frontline fighters,” Mitsotakis wrote in his message.

“Words do not suffice to describe the national mourning for their loss. So, we grit our teeth and turn our silence into strength. In their memory, we will continue the war against the destructive forces of nature.”

Mitsotakis cancelled a planned visit to Cyprus for Wednesday, and Greece’s armed forces declared three days of mourning.

Body of missing farmer found in Evia:

State broadcaster ERT separately reported that the body of a 41-year-old stockbreeder who had been missing since Sunday was found burned in a shack in a hard-to-reach area on Evia.

Police sources said that the body was found by the missing man’s relatives, who notified the police and believe it is his body.

DNA tests will be conducted to confirm the identity of the remains.

Wildfires continue to rage across Greece:

These deaths come as wildfires continue to rage across Greece.

More evacuations orders were issued on the islands of Corfu and Evia, while a blaze on the island of Rhodes continued to move inland, torching mountainous forest areas, including part of a nature reserve.

Authorities said that more than 20,000 people have been involved in successive evacuations on Rhodes, mostly tourists over the weekend, when fire swept through two coastal areas on the southeast of the island.

Wildfires burn the forests near the village of Vati, in the southern part of the Greek island of Rhodes. Photo: AFP.

The Civil Protection Ministry has now warned of an “extreme danger” of fire in six of the country’s 13 regions on Wednesday. Areas most at risk are Attica, Central Greece (Viotia, Evia, Fthiotida, Fokida), the Peloponnese region (Argolida, Corinthia), Western Greece (Achaia), Thessaly (Larissa, Magnesia), and Central Macedonia (Thessaloniki).

Greece has seen very high temperatures in recent weeks and they are set to rise through Wednesday to exceed 44 degrees Celsius in some areas.

READ MORE: Greek filotimo praised amid fire emergency on Rhodes.

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