A man with flames behind him
The wildfires have been described as like a horror film

Thousands have been forced to flee their homes as apocalyptic wildfires in Greece continue to rage through the country.

The island of Evia was burning uncontrollably for a sixth day on Sunday after ferries were scrambled to rescue beleaguered residents.

The blaze on the island, which is Greece’s second-biggest, erupted into several fronts, tearing through thousands of acres of forest across its northern region, forcing the evacuation of dozens of villages.

The flames engulfed homes in five villages but the full extent of the damage was not immediately known.

“(It’s) like a horror movie,” said a 38-year-old pregnant evacuee who gave her name as Mina, after she boarded a rescue ferry at the town of Pefki.

“But now this is not the movie, this is real life, this is the horror that we have lived with for the last week,” she said.

“We’re talking about the apocalypse, I don’t know how to describe it,” Sotiris Danikas, coastguard in the town of Aidipsos, told state broadcaster ERT.

In the village of Psaropouli, evacuated residents said they were angry.

A blaze engulfs trees in its path
It has been described by eyewitnesses as ‘the apocalypse’ ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
A local uses a megaphone as others observe a large forest fire
Firefighters are working to tackle the inferno ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)

“I lost my home … nothing will be the same the next day,” one woman who gave her name as Vasilikia said.

“It’s a disaster. It’s huge. Our villages are destroyed, there is nothing left from our homes, our properties, nothing, nothing,” she said.

Wildfires have broken out in many parts of the country during a devastating week-long heatwave, Greece’s worst in three decades, with searing temperatures and hot winds creating tinder-box conditions.

Across the country, forest land has burned and dozens of homes and businesses have been destroyed.

Since Tuesday, the coastguard has evacuated more than 2,000 people, including many elderly residents, from different parts of Evia, which is linked to the mainland by bridge, in dramatic sea rescues as the night sky turned an apocalyptic red.

A firefighter and locals rush to a burning house
Thousands of people have been evacuated ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
A house is burning as forest fires approach
Greece and Turkey have been battling devastating fires for nearly two weeks ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Others fled their villages on foot overnight, walking along roads dotted with trees in flames.

“A house is burning over here,” one woman told emergency crews on the ground in the settlement of Vasilika, pointing to a searing fire in the distance.

“Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere,” one of the firefighters replied.

The governor for central Greece, Fanis Spanos, said the situation in the north of the island had been “very difficult” for nearly a week.

“The fronts are huge, the area of burned land is huge,” he told Skai TV.

More than 2,500 people have been accommodated in hotels and other shelters, he said.

Greece has deployed the army to help battle the fires and several countries including France, Egypt, Switzerland and Spain have also sent help including firefighting aircraft.

A local resident reacts as he observes a large blaze
Many homes have been destroyed ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
A local resident holds her dog that was rescued
Ministers have warned of difficult times ahead ( Image: KOSTAS TSIRONIS/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

More than 570 firefighters are battling the blaze in Evia, and Brit volunteers were expected to touch down to offer help on Sunday.

Elsewhere, a firefighting plane crashed during an emergency landing on the Greek island of Zakynthos on Sunday while it was on its way to a small-scale blaze there, a police official said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known and the pilot escaped without serious injury, the official said.

Greece’s deputy civil protection minister, Nikos Hardalias, said emergency crews were undertaking “superhuman efforts” against multiple fronts.

People sat on a ferry floor
Many people had to be rescued as the fires raged ( Image: KOSTAS TSIRONIS/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

“The night ahead will be difficult,” he said during an emergency briefing late on Sunday. Earlier, he said water-bombing aircraft in the region faced several hurdles including low visibility caused by the thick plumes of smoke rising over the mountains and turbulence.

A fire in the foothills of Mount Parnitha that swept through suburbs north of Athens had been contained but weather conditions meant there was still a high threat it could flare up again.

The ongoing inferno comes after Cop26 President Alok Sharma issued a stark warning that the world was getting ‘dangerously close’ to running out of time to avert catastrophic climate change.

Mr Sharma – who is tasked with making a success of the forthcoming climate talks in Glasgow – said failing to limit warming to 1.5C would be “catastrophic”.

A man climbs over a fence to escape the flames. It is the worst the country has seen for decades ( Image: Eurokinissi/REX/Shutterstock)
A man uses a tree branch to extinguish a wildfire. It comes amid warnings of climate change catastrophe ( Image: REUTERS)

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Sharma said a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due to be published on Monday, would be the “starkest warning yet” about what the future could hold.

“You’re seeing on a daily basis what is happening across the world,” he said. “Last year was the hottest on record, the last decade the hottest decade on record.

“We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment.

“I don’t think we’re out of time but I think we’re getting dangerously close to when we might be out of time.”

 

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