Greek wildfires claim first victim: health ministry

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ATHENS, GREECE - AUGUST 06: A view of wildfire in Adames area, in northern Athens, Greece on August 06, 2021. Thousands of people fled their homes north of Athens on Tuesday as a wildfire broke out of the forest and reached residential areas. (Photo by Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
ATHENS, GREECE – AUGUST 06: A view of wildfire in Adames area, in northern Athens, Greece on August 06, 2021. Thousands of people fled their homes north of Athens on Tuesday as a wildfire broke out of the forest and reached residential areas. (Photo by Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The wildfires that have been raging in Greece claimed their first life on Friday, a 38-year-old man who was hit by a falling electricity pole north of Athens, the health ministry said.

Hundreds of firefighters have been battling a blaze north of Athens for several days, prompting villages to be evacuated and blowing thick, choking smoke all over the Greek capital, Athens.

French firefighters arrived in Greece on Thursday night to help, while Switzerland, Sweden, Romania and Israel are due to send back-up.

“Our country is facing an extremely critical situation,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said late Thursday, putting six out of 13 regions in the country under high alert.

“We’re facing unprecedented conditions after several days of heatwave have turned the country into a powder keg.”

Greece and Turkey have been fighting blaze upon blaze over the past week, hit by the worst heatwave in decades, a disaster that officials and experts have linked to increasingly frequent and intense weather events caused by climate change.

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