Bratislava, Slovakia – Visegrad countries have joined an international wave of support and said they were sending firefighters to Greece to help the Mediterranean nation tackle wildfires of an unprecedented magnitude.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called it a “nightmarish summer” marked by the country’s worst heatwave in decades, causing a dozen of wildfires to erupt across Greece in the past few days ravaging forests, lands and villages and forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and tourists.
One of the fires, which began on Tuesday on Greece’s second-biggest island of Evia, quickly burgeoned into several fronts and spiraled out of control, blazing through acres of land just east of the capital Athens.
Several parts of the Peloponnese region, including the site of the first Olympic Games Ancient Olympia, are also battling the flames.
“We are fighting a very big battle”, warned deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias.
With dramatic footage and images of the wildfires blazing through Greece making headlines all around the world, dozens of nations have answered Greece’s call for help.
Among Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic said a total of 15 fire engines with a crew of 36 firefighters were due to leave on Saturday to help Greece.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed Poland would also come to help, with reports suggesting Warsaw would send more than 140 firefighters and over 40 trucks to its EU partner.
Meanwhile, the Slovak ambassador to Greece Iveta Hricova said on Twitter that they were also “sending a group of firefighters to help”.
Greece has already deployed more than 1,000 firefighters to bring the flames under control, but strong winds and record-high temperatures have only added more fuel to the fires.
More than 140,000 acres of land have already been burnt in the country in the last ten days, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
In neighbouring Turkey, at least eight people have died as a result of wildfires that swept through its southwestern coastal regions, and thousands also had to be evacuated from hard-hit areas.