Greece in “absolute vigilance” due to the heat wave

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on Thursday for “absolute vigilance” in the face of a new episode of heat wave which is hitting his country with temperatures expected to range from 44°C to 45°C this weekend.

Faced with this new heat waveall archaeological sites in the country, including the Acropolis of Athens, will remain closed during the hottest hours of the day until Sunday, according to the Ministry of Culture.

“We need absolute vigilance […] because the difficult times have not passed, ”warned the head of government.

“We are facing a new heat wave” and “a possible strengthening of the winds” which have already fanned several violent fires around Athens since Monday, he underlined.

Like other archaeological sites, the Acropolis of Athens, the most visited monument in the country, closed at noon and until 5:30 p.m. (from 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Quebec) this Thursday, a measure which will be applied until Sunday.

Due to a work stoppage by the guardians of the Acropolis already announced, it will remain closed until the usual closing time, at 8 p.m. local (1 p.m. in Quebec) from Thursday to Sunday.

The Red Cross once again deployed at the bottom of the Sacred Rock to distribute tens of thousands of bottles of water to visitors as the thermometer showed 38°C in Athens on Thursday midday.

Expected increase in temperatures

Greece is expecting maximum temperatures of 43°C on Thursday and they are expected to rise further in the coming days, with 44-45°C forecast for Friday and Saturday in the center of the country.

In the Greek capital, an absolute record temperature of 44.8°C was recorded in June 2007, according to the National Observatory of Athens, while the absolute record in Greece was reached in July 1977 with 48°C in Elefsina, near Athens.

“What worries us is that the forecast points to a further increase in temperatures next week. It would then be a heat wave stretching over more than fifteen days, the longest ever recorded in Greece,” Kostas Lagouvardos, research director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens, told AFP.

In the center of Athens, the population tried to go about their activities despite the extreme heat in the middle of the day.

Christos Boyiatzis polishes the shoes of businessmen in the chic Kolonaki district.

“I am used to high temperatures. We have them every summer, but what is difficult this year is that the heat waves follow one another,” he admits.

Kostas Leventouris, a newspaper seller, will close his kiosk an hour earlier “because of the heat”.

On rue Panepistimiou, where his shop is located, work is at a standstill. “But just yesterday the poor workers were under the beating sun. I don’t complain too much about my working conditions. Me, at least I am in the shade, ”notes the forties.

High risk of fires

On the front of the violent forest fires, the situation improved on Thursday.

However, hundreds of firefighters are still fighting the fires still active west of Athens, which have already burned thousands of hectares. Thursday afternoon, the fires resumed in the region of Dervenochoria, northwest of Athens where four villages were evacuated by the authorities.

“Firefighters faced 200 fires in three days, in extreme weather conditions,” Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias told the Skai radio channel.

The risk of fires remains very high for the region surrounding the Greek capital, Attica, as well as the Peloponnese peninsula (southwest) and central Greece, according to Civil Protection.

“The next few days will be very hard,” firefighter spokesman Yannis Artopios warned on Thursday.

On the tourist island of Rhodes where a forest fire broke out two days ago, five planes and five helicopters continue to operate Thursday against the flames.

Southeast of Athens, 3472 hectares have burned in recent days, according to the European observatory Copernicus.

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