Greece has declared a state of emergency as record-breaking wildfires continue to tear through the capital city of Athens, raising the death toll to at least 50. Rescue teams have transported 696 people to safety since Monday night, and residents are being forced to run to the sea to escape the flames.
Seaside resort destinations near Athens are being severely impacted, and the entire city is currently enfulged in a thick, dark haze. The UK Foreign Office says that the wildfires "have been confined to limited areas, but within those, the impact has been high, with significant loss of life."
The Government of Canada has posted a travel advisory about the fires affecting multiple areas in the greater Athens region. The advisory says the fires are causing "significant disruptions to essential services" including:
- Power distribution
- Water and food supply
- Telecommunications networks
- Emergency services
The advisory urges travellers to contact their airline or tour operator immediately to determine if travel plans to Greece will be disrupted by the fires.
Flights into the capital city's international airport are being diverted because of low visibility. The UK Government is advising travellers to "keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of the Greek authorities in affected areas."
Major roadways and train links are also currently shut down, due to the forest fire flames that have taken over transportation routes.
Terrifying video footage captures the raging blaze on full tilt, destroying entire communities and acres of wildlife. An aerial video taken from an airplane shows the wildfire breaking up into hundreds of separate plumes of smoke throughout the city.
Greece is on fire fam pic.twitter.com/gpxBV5yCqt— Zo (@g0rilla_zo) July 24, 2018
The mayor of the affected town says, "The fire rages unabated. We urge residents to head towards Corinth to protect themselves and their children." Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of mourning for the victims.
"There are no words to describe the feelings of all of us, these times," Tsipras said today, "The country is going through a tragedy." It's the worst wildfire the country has seen in over a decade.
To see the Government of Canada's full travel advisory to Greece, click here.