By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ATHENS/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Thousands of people have been evacuated from homes and hotels on Greece’s island of Rhodes due to wildfires as the nation deals with its most prolonged deadly heatwave on record, officials said Saturday.
Greek firefighters called the blazes the most difficult Greece is currently facing, with more than 2,000 people moved by sea to a safer location.
No injuries have been reported, said the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in Greece.
Fire brigades were trying to extinguish nearly 80 forest fires across Greece, authorities said, adding that the country would be on a state of alert all weekend.
Rhodes has been battling wildfires fanned by strong winds since Tuesday amidst a lengthy heatwave across Europe. “According to the data, we will probably go through 16-17 days of a heatwave, which has never happened before in our country,” said Kostas Lagouvardos, the research director at the Athens National Observatory.
Greece views a heatwave as a period when temperatures reach or exceed 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit).
The capital Athens was due to be hotter than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for at least six to seven days, explained meteorologist Panagiotis Giannopoulos.
Greece is among several nations hit by extreme heat in southern Europe, while the United States and North Africa are experiencing record-breaking temperatures in several areas.
The Greek government advised people to work from home where possible and not to go out unnecessarily.
Famed tourism sites will be closed during the hottest part of the day, including the Acropolis, a world heritage site, which was to be shut from midday to 5.30 pm local time every day until Sunday.
The weather raised health concerns, with a 46-year-old man reportedly dying from heat stroke after being admitted to Chalkida Hospital on the central island of Evia.
The hospital said cardio-respiratory failure after exposure to high temperatures appeared to be the cause
Elsewhere, Italy experienced its third heatwave of the summer, and temperatures were forecast to spike in Spain on Sunday when national elections are being held.
In the United States, Phoenix has had 70 days where temperatures have not dipped below 32 Celsius (89.6 Fahrenheit).
It included a three-week stretch where temperatures reached 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit) in the Arizona state capital.
In Tunisia, temperatures are reportedly 6 Celsius to 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) above the average for this time of year.
Yet there is a discussion among scientists and officials about whether the heatwaves in several parts of the world are linked to human-caused climate change or part of a natural phenomenon.
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