As people flee fires in Greece, those trapped plead for help

Written by on August 11, 2021

Scott Munro/ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Firefighters are still battling a large blaze on the island of Evia in Greece, where fires closed in on the beaches, forcing residents to flee via boats and ferries.

More than 1,100 were transported from the island to safety overnight on boats, after authorities issued evacuation alerts in dozens of towns.

People were trapped in villages on the island and calling for help on Greek television on Saturday morning, including a mother and her baby pleading for air tankers to be sent to her home.

Greek authorities reported the first casualties, with two dead including one volunteer and dozens injured. Volunteers rode in on motorcycles to bring water and help put out fires in the suburbs of Athens. A Kryoneri resident called them “a gift from God,” as firefighters are spread thin across the country.

Reinforcement coming in from Europe and the U.S. — 90 helicopters and planes, 23 vehicles and roughly 400 firefighters — are continuing to arrive on Saturday. Residents of Kryoneri, 14 miles north of Athens, were still undecided on what to do and whether to leave their home behind.

“I’m very scared,” Eleni Glibti, a resident of Kryoneri told ABC News. “I don’t know what to do, it’s illegal to be here.”

Sixty-four fires were still active overnight.

Weather conditions slightly improved in north of Athens on Saturday morning, with temperatures dropping to 91 Fahrenheit, giving firefighters a break and allowing them to get control over fires in the Attica region and the north of Athens.

Temperatures are expected to pick back up again next week.

Fires have raged across the Mediterranean for the past 11 days, including in Italy, France and Turkey, where the fires killed at least eight people.

The vast majority of the fires in Turkey had been brought under control on Friday evening, 198 out of 208 fires nationally, per the Turkish Forest and Agricultural Ministry.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that a total of 252 million tree saplings — three saplings for each citizen — will be planted before the end of the year, as part of the Breath for the Future campaign, launched in 2019 among several countries as part of an environmental effort.

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