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A firefighting plane has crashed in Greece, killing its crew members Petros Giannakouris/AP/PA

Two killed after plane crashes while battling wildfires on Greek island of Evia

A man was found burnt to death in a separate incident today.

LAST UPDATE | 25 Jul 2023

TWO PILOTS DIED when their water-bombing plane crashed while battling a blaze on the Greek island of Evia today, as wildfires flared across the Mediterranean.

Greece’s fire department said the Canadair aircraft crashed into a ravine close to where the fire started on Sunday. Footage on state TV ERT showed the plane clipping a tree before falling nose-first and exploding.

The pilots were members of the Greek air force, and the defence ministry said it had declared a three-day mourning period.

The plane was among at least three other aircraft and around a hundred firefighters confronting the flames on Evia.

Later this evening, a man was found dead on the island, a police spokesperson told AFP,

“The man was found charred and a police unit is heading there to check if this was a shepherd that was missing since Sunday,” Konstantia Dimoglidou, Greek police spokeswoman told AFP.

Both tragedies took place as Greece battled wildfires on three major fronts, including the tourist islands of Rhodes and Corfu, with many of the country’s regions listed at extreme risk of dangerous forest fires exacerbated by strong winds.

Scientists from the World Weather Attribution group said today the heatwaves that have hit parts of Europe and North America this month would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate change.

embedded767b0e1c03284044a8e083b385d8cdc0 A satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows fires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes Planet Labs PBC via AP Planet Labs PBC via AP

“We have another difficult summer ahead of us,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told his cabinet.

Three days before the plane crash, Mitsotakis acknowledged that the aged Canadair CL-215 water bombers used by Greece – a model first produced in the mid-1960s – were “old, difficult (to fly) and prone to malfunction.”

He had vowed to bring in new models available in 2026.

WWF Greece on Tuesday said 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of forest and other land had been scorched by fire in the country just in the past week.

In the capital Athens the heat is expected to reach 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), and hit up to 44C in central Greece, according to the national weather forecaster EMY.

Vassilis Kikilias, Greece’s civil protection minister, said crews had battled over 500 fires around the country for 12 straight days.

© AFP 2023

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