‘Arsonists started devastating Greece wildfires’ say desperate locals

The deadly wildfires that are currently tearing through the Greek island of Corfu have been blamed on arsonists, as thousands of locals and tourists have been forced to flee the fire ravaged island.

Corfu mayor Yorgos Mahimaris revealed on Monday (July 24) that arsonists was likely responsible for starting the fires, which have forced a huge number of people to evacuate.

Mr Mahimaris came to this conclusion after visiting three areas on Mount Pantokratoras where the fires started. He told Sky News: “There’s a human hand in this.”

Theofanis Skembris, deputy mayor of North Corfu, supported this viewpoint, noting that four fires started “simultaneously”.

Elsewhere on the island, other residents were quick to point to human involvement in the fires.

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Vasilis Sofitsis, the owner of a pool and garden company on the island, also highlighted that the fires are believed to have been deliberately started by arsonists.

According to him, the numerous fire fronts scattered across various locations cannot be attributed to mere accidents; instead, he suggests that deliberate actions are behind the widespread fires.

EU officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires across the European continent, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017.

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Greek police said a burned body believed to belong to a sheep farmer who had been missing since Sunday in southern Evia — a day before the fire broke out there — was found on Tuesday (July 25). It was unclear whether he had been killed by the fire or had died of other causes beforehand.

A fire service spokesman said the worst blazes on Tuesday were on the southeastern island of Rhodes and the northwestern island of Corfu — both popular tourist destinations. “On the other fronts, we have to deal with many cases of the fire flaring up again,” Ioannis Artopios said.

Four villages on Rhodes were ordered evacuated on Tuesday as a fire burning for eight days continued to move inland, torching mountainous forest areas, including a part of a nature reserve.

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Another five evacuations were ordered on Corfu, and one overnight on Evia.

In Athens, authorities resumed afternoon closing hours at the ancient Acropolis, as part of broader measures to cope with the high heat.

The European Union has sent 500 firefighters, 100 vehicles and seven planes from 10 member states, while Turkey, Israel, Egypt and other countries have also sent help.

Contributing nations included Italy, which has its own fires and extreme weather too.

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