Greece faces ‘disaster of unprecedented proportions’ as wildfires ravage the country

Evia, Greece (CNN)Greece is facing a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions,” as 586 wildfires burn in “all corners” of the country, according to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.The Mediterranean nation is broiling under one of its worst heat waves in decades and firefighters continue to battle blazes across the country. Sixty-three organized evacuations have taken place in the past few days, Mitsotakis said in a televised address on Monday.He also apologized “for any weaknesses” on the part of the government in containing the wildfires, which have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced people to evacuate dozens of villages over the past week.

“These last days have been some of the most difficult for our country in decades,” Mitsotakis said, citing the extreme heat and months of drought as issues that have complicated firefighting efforts.

The remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThe remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.Hide Caption14 of 27

Onlookers view the smoke from the wildfires blanketing Athens' Acropolis on August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesOnlookers view the smoke from the wildfires blanketing Athens’ Acropolis on August 4.Hide Caption15 of 27

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA charred area of Mugla, Turkey, after a forest fire on Tuesday, August 3.Hide Caption16 of 27

Smoke and flames rise over the village of Limni on the Greek island of Evia, on August .

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesSmoke and flames rise over the village of Limni on the Greek island of Evia, on August .Hide Caption17 of 27

Firefighters work as a house burns in the Adames area of northern Athens on August 3.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters work as a house burns in the Adames area of northern Athens on August 3.Hide Caption18 of 27

A woman pours water over a baby's head at a fountain in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, as temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, August 2.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA woman pours water over a baby’s head at a fountain in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, as temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, August 2.Hide Caption19 of 27

A man leads sheep away from an advancing fire on August 2, in Mugla, Turkey.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA man leads sheep away from an advancing fire on August 2, in Mugla, Turkey.Hide Caption20 of 27

People watch an advancing fire that rages around Cokertme village, near Bodrum, Turkey, on August 2.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople watch an advancing fire that rages around Cokertme village, near Bodrum, Turkey, on August 2.Hide Caption21 of 27

Local residents watch as a Greek army Chinook helicopter collects water to tackle a wildfire near the village of Lambiri, Greece, on Sunday, August 1.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesLocal residents watch as a Greek army Chinook helicopter collects water to tackle a wildfire near the village of Lambiri, Greece, on Sunday, August 1.Hide Caption22 of 27

A handout photo from the Italian National Fire Brigade shows an aerial view of a fire in the Pineta Dannunziana reserve in Pescara, Italy, on August 1.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA handout photo from the Italian National Fire Brigade shows an aerial view of a fire in the Pineta Dannunziana reserve in Pescara, Italy, on August 1.Hide Caption23 of 27

A man surveys a fire at Le Capannine beach in the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, on Friday, July 30.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA man surveys a fire at Le Capannine beach in the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, on Friday, July 30.Hide Caption24 of 27

Firefighters battle a massive wildfire that engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey's southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on Thursday, July 29.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters battle a massive wildfire that engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey’s southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on Thursday, July 29.Hide Caption25 of 27

A firefighter talks to his colleague as they work to put out fires in Cuglieri, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on Monday, July 26.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighter talks to his colleague as they work to put out fires in Cuglieri, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on Monday, July 26.Hide Caption26 of 27

A firefighting helicopter passes in front of a cloud of smoke from a forest fire near Spathovouni village, southwest of Athens, Greece, on Friday, July 23.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighting helicopter passes in front of a cloud of smoke from a forest fire near Spathovouni village, southwest of Athens, Greece, on Friday, July 23.Hide Caption27 of 27

This aerial photo shows a wildfire-affected area in Mugla, Turkey, on Wednesday, August 11.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThis aerial photo shows a wildfire-affected area in Mugla, Turkey, on Wednesday, August 11.Hide Caption1 of 27

Local youths and volunteers gather in a field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire on Monday, August 9, close to the village of Kamatriades on the Greek island of Evia.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesLocal youths and volunteers gather in a field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire on Monday, August 9, close to the village of Kamatriades on the Greek island of Evia.Hide Caption2 of 27

A resident reacts as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, August 8.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA resident reacts as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, August 8.Hide Caption3 of 27

People sleep in a car near the beach in Pefki village, as wildfires rage on the island of Evia.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople sleep in a car near the beach in Pefki village, as wildfires rage on the island of Evia.Hide Caption4 of 27

A house in Pefkofito, Greece, is destroyed after the forest fire on Saturday, August 7.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA house in Pefkofito, Greece, is destroyed after the forest fire on Saturday, August 7.Hide Caption5 of 27

A firefighter washes his face in the Milas area of Mugla, Turkey, on August 7.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighter washes his face in the Milas area of Mugla, Turkey, on August 7.Hide Caption6 of 27

People are evacuated on a ferry as a wildfire burns in Limni on Friday, August 6.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople are evacuated on a ferry as a wildfire burns in Limni on Friday, August 6.Hide Caption7 of 27

A satellite photo shows smoke rising from fires on the island of Evia, Greece, on Thursday, August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA satellite photo shows smoke rising from fires on the island of Evia, Greece, on Thursday, August 5.Hide Caption8 of 27

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire near the town of Olympia, Greece on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters try to extinguish a wildfire near the town of Olympia, Greece on August 5.Hide Caption9 of 27

Residents react during a wildfire near Olympia on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesResidents react during a wildfire near Olympia on August 5.Hide Caption10 of 27

The grounds of a burnt hotel are seen in Lalas village, near Olympia, on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThe grounds of a burnt hotel are seen in Lalas village, near Olympia, on August 5.Hide Caption11 of 27

People move belongings to safety as a forest fire rages in a wooded area north of Athens, Greece, on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople move belongings to safety as a forest fire rages in a wooded area north of Athens, Greece, on August 5.Hide Caption12 of 27

A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy, foreground, in Olympia, Greece, on Wednesday, August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy, foreground, in Olympia, Greece, on Wednesday, August 4.Hide Caption13 of 27

The remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThe remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.Hide Caption14 of 27

Onlookers view the smoke from the wildfires blanketing Athens' Acropolis on August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesOnlookers view the smoke from the wildfires blanketing Athens’ Acropolis on August 4.Hide Caption15 of 27

A charred area of Mugla, Turkey, after a forest fire on Tuesday, August 3.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA charred area of Mugla, Turkey, after a forest fire on Tuesday, August 3.Hide Caption16 of 27

Smoke and flames rise over the village of Limni on the Greek island of Evia, on August .

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesSmoke and flames rise over the village of Limni on the Greek island of Evia, on August .Hide Caption17 of 27

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters work as a house burns in the Adames area of northern Athens on August 3.Hide Caption18 of 27

A woman pours water over a baby's head at a fountain in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, as temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, August 2.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA woman pours water over a baby’s head at a fountain in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, as temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, August 2.Hide Caption19 of 27

A man leads sheep away from an advancing fire on August 2, in Mugla, Turkey.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA man leads sheep away from an advancing fire on August 2, in Mugla, Turkey.Hide Caption20 of 27

People watch an advancing fire that rages around Cokertme village, near Bodrum, Turkey, on August 2.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople watch an advancing fire that rages around Cokertme village, near Bodrum, Turkey, on August 2.Hide Caption21 of 27

Local residents watch as a Greek army Chinook helicopter collects water to tackle a wildfire near the village of Lambiri, Greece, on Sunday, August 1.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesLocal residents watch as a Greek army Chinook helicopter collects water to tackle a wildfire near the village of Lambiri, Greece, on Sunday, August 1.Hide Caption22 of 27

A handout photo from the Italian National Fire Brigade shows an aerial view of a fire in the Pineta Dannunziana reserve in Pescara, Italy, on August 1.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA handout photo from the Italian National Fire Brigade shows an aerial view of a fire in the Pineta Dannunziana reserve in Pescara, Italy, on August 1.Hide Caption23 of 27

A man surveys a fire at Le Capannine beach in the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, on Friday, July 30.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA man surveys a fire at Le Capannine beach in the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, on Friday, July 30.Hide Caption24 of 27

Firefighters battle a massive wildfire that engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey's southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on Thursday, July 29.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters battle a massive wildfire that engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey’s southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on Thursday, July 29.Hide Caption25 of 27

A firefighter talks to his colleague as they work to put out fires in Cuglieri, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on Monday, July 26.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighter talks to his colleague as they work to put out fires in Cuglieri, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on Monday, July 26.Hide Caption26 of 27

A firefighting helicopter passes in front of a cloud of smoke from a forest fire near Spathovouni village, southwest of Athens, Greece, on Friday, July 23.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighting helicopter passes in front of a cloud of smoke from a forest fire near Spathovouni village, southwest of Athens, Greece, on Friday, July 23.Hide Caption27 of 27

This aerial photo shows a wildfire-affected area in Mugla, Turkey, on Wednesday, August 11.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThis aerial photo shows a wildfire-affected area in Mugla, Turkey, on Wednesday, August 11.Hide Caption1 of 27

Local youths and volunteers gather in a field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire on Monday, August 9, close to the village of Kamatriades on the Greek island of Evia.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesLocal youths and volunteers gather in a field and wait to support firefighters during a wildfire on Monday, August 9, close to the village of Kamatriades on the Greek island of Evia.Hide Caption2 of 27

A resident reacts as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, August 8.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA resident reacts as a wildfire approaches her house in the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, August 8.Hide Caption3 of 27

People sleep in a car near the beach in Pefki village, as wildfires rage on the island of Evia.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople sleep in a car near the beach in Pefki village, as wildfires rage on the island of Evia.Hide Caption4 of 27

A house in Pefkofito, Greece, is destroyed after the forest fire on Saturday, August 7.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA house in Pefkofito, Greece, is destroyed after the forest fire on Saturday, August 7.Hide Caption5 of 27

A firefighter washes his face in the Milas area of Mugla, Turkey, on August 7.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA firefighter washes his face in the Milas area of Mugla, Turkey, on August 7.Hide Caption6 of 27

People are evacuated on a ferry as a wildfire burns in Limni on Friday, August 6.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople are evacuated on a ferry as a wildfire burns in Limni on Friday, August 6.Hide Caption7 of 27

A satellite photo shows smoke rising from fires on the island of Evia, Greece, on Thursday, August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA satellite photo shows smoke rising from fires on the island of Evia, Greece, on Thursday, August 5.Hide Caption8 of 27

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire near the town of Olympia, Greece on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesFirefighters try to extinguish a wildfire near the town of Olympia, Greece on August 5.Hide Caption9 of 27

Residents react during a wildfire near Olympia on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesResidents react during a wildfire near Olympia on August 5.Hide Caption10 of 27

The grounds of a burnt hotel are seen in Lalas village, near Olympia, on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThe grounds of a burnt hotel are seen in Lalas village, near Olympia, on August 5.Hide Caption11 of 27

People move belongings to safety as a forest fire rages in a wooded area north of Athens, Greece, on August 5.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesPeople move belongings to safety as a forest fire rages in a wooded area north of Athens, Greece, on August 5.Hide Caption12 of 27

A wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy, foreground, in Olympia, Greece, on Wednesday, August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesA wildfire approaches the Olympic Academy, foreground, in Olympia, Greece, on Wednesday, August 4.Hide Caption13 of 27

The remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.

Photos: Europe battles wildfires amid scorching heat wavesThe remnants of a destroyed house are seen here in the Varibobi area, northern Athens, on August 4.Hide Caption14 of 27

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Greece’s second-largest island, Evia, has been at the center of the storm of fires that have ravaged the country. Over half of the island has burned, according to local officials.The fires have been devastating for Greeks who rely on the forests for their livelihood. In Evia, local residents told CNN that national assistance came too late. And their produce — including resin, honey, olives and figs — has been destroyed in the flames.

Climate warning

Environmental authorities have warned that southern Europe, where droughts are becoming more frequent and severe, is at the greatest risk from the impacts of climate change on the continent.”It is obvious that the climate crisis is affecting the whole planet,” Mitsotakis said. “That is the explanation, but not an excuse, or an alibi. We may have done everything that was humanly possible, but in many cases this did not seem to be enough in the unequal battle with nature,” he added.

The world is on the brink of 'catastrophe,' leader of next UN climate talks warns

The world is on the brink of ‘catastrophe,’ leader of next UN climate talks warnsOn Monday, a state-of-the-science report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the climate crisis and confirmed that “widespread and rapid changes” have already occurred, some of them irreversibly.Scientists are more confident than ever in connecting the dots between the climate crisis and extreme weather: globally, droughts that may have occurred only once every 10 years or so now happen 70% more frequently, according to the report. And amid unrelenting drought and record heat, wildfire seasons are now longer and result in more destructive fires.Elderly people are seen on chairs and makeshift bed onboard a ferry at the port of the village of Pefki, during a wildfire at Pefki village on Evia.Elderly people are seen on chairs and makeshift bed onboard a ferry at the port of the village of Pefki, during a wildfire at Pefki village on Evia.Firefighters and volunteers use a water hose near a burning blaze trying to extinguish a fire in the village of Glatsona on Evia island, on August 9.Firefighters and volunteers use a water hose near a burning blaze trying to extinguish a fire in the village of Glatsona on Evia island, on August 9.While Europe has battled wildfires for weeks, across the Mediterranean, North Africa is also facing the threat. At least 25 Algerian People’s National Army members have been killed while fighting wildfires east of the Algerian capital Algiers since Monday, the country’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune said in a post to Twitter on Tuesday.The country has recorded 103 fires in 17 provinces since Monday, according to the Algeria Press Service (APS) report on Tuesday.The military personnel died after rescuing more than 100 people “from the blazing fires” in the mountains of Bejaia and Tizi -Ouzou in the east of the capital.

Anger at government response

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Greek Parliament in Athens on Monday over the government’s handling of the wildfires.”We are protesting against the government that has let all the country burn, because of profits before people,” demonstrator Nikos Loutos told Reuters. “We are protesting because they give millions for buying warplanes and police and not for the fire brigade.”Another protester, Anna Mitilineou, said: “There is a lot of rage in the public because they have not staffed the special forest fire brigade. The forest fire brigade puts out fires in the forests, not the regular firefighters, and they dismantled them, that is why we are burning.”

Prime Minister Mitsotakis said any failures in Greece’s firefighting response will be identified, those responsible will be held to account and people whose property was destroyed will be compensated.The prime minister will chair a cabinet meeting on Tuesday which will announce specific measures to tackle the effects of the wildfires.

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