Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday called the devastating wildfires that have blazed across the country for over a week as the largest environmental disaster Greece has seen in decades.
The fires broke out as the country languished in the most intense and longest heat wave seen since 1987. Hundreds of wildfires have broken out across the country, straining Greece's fire-fighting capabilities to the limit and forcing the government to seek help from foreign countries. Hundreds of firefighters, as well as planes, helicopters and vehicles, arrived to help from 24 European and Middle Eastern countries.
"We managed to save lives, but we lost our forests and property," Mitsotakis said, calling the wildfires "the greatest environmental disaster in decades."
Speaking at a press conference in Athens, the first since the start of the fires, Mitsotakis said the authorities faced about 100 active fires every day. By Thursday, the situation had improved significantly and most of the major wildfires had subsided.
However, the prime minister warned that the danger of new fires still exists.
“We are in mid-August and it is clear that we will have difficult days,” until the main season, during which the fires occur, is over, he said.
“The climate crisis - I would like to use this term, not climate change - the climate crisis is already here, and it shows us that everything has to change,” he said.
"This is a common crisis for all of us," he said.
Several Mediterranean countries have been hit by intense heat waves and rapidly spreading wildfires in recent weeks, including Turkey, which killed at least eight people, and Italy. In Algeria, wildfires in the mountains have killed at least 69 people.