Wildfires in Greece have been by no means unusual however, lately, they’ve turn out to be an more and more catastrophic downside. This yr, they appear set to be a number of the worst the nation has ever seen: firefighters have been attempting to regulate 82 wildfires which were burning for the final week, 64 of which began on Sunday through the hottest July weekend in 50 years in Greece (the mercury reached 45C within the central area of Thessaly). Current evaluation by scientists has proven that the human-caused local weather disaster is undeniably guilty for the deadly heatwave that has hit Europe and plenty of components of the world, inflicting wildfires like those we have now seen in Greece. And if nothing is completed, the issue will solely turn out to be extra acute, with scientists predicting that if the world heats by 2C, these brutal heatwaves will occur each two to 5 years.
The favored island vacationer vacation spot of Rhodes has been worst affected, with movies posted on-line by terrified onlookers exhibiting thick plumes of smoke and orange skies throughout the island. Elsewhere, fires additionally broke out on Evia, and the glow from the flames in Corfu have been so sturdy they may very well be seen from throughout the water in Albania.
Greek authorities have mentioned that 19,000 individuals – largely vacationers – have been evacuated from a number of places on Rhodes, the largest evacuation within the nation’s historical past, and greater than 100 homes and companies have been severely broken. Regardless of assist from a number of different international locations together with the Czech Republic, France, Israel and Italy, Greece has been unable to regulate the fires.
Right this moment’s e-newsletter is a rundown of what has been occurring in Greece. That’s proper after the headlines.
5 large tales
BBC | One of many BBC’s best-known journalists and newsreaders, George Alagiah, has died on the age of 67 after being recognized with bowel most cancers 9 years in the past, his agent has mentioned. Alagiah introduced the Information at Six for twenty years after a prolonged profession as a international correspondent.
Israel | Docs are set to strike on Tuesday in protest towards the passing of a key a part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, after 1000’s of protesters took to the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Monday evening.
Hearth service | Feminine firefighters are being compelled to strip all the way down to their underwear in full view of their male colleagues and the broader public, in an “pointless, degrading follow” being enforced by an English brigade, the Hearth Brigades Union (FBU) has mentioned.
Water business | Thames Water has admitted it has failed to put in a single sensible water meter underneath a flagship £70m programme to suit a whole lot of 1000’s of the units to assist the UK’s “inexperienced financial restoration” from Covid-19.
Strikes | 1000’s of radiographers in England will strike at this time amid a row with the federal government over pay, recruitment and retention. Members of the Society of Radiographers (SoR) have voted to reject the 5% pay award provided by ministers and known as for talks to reopen after different public sector staff, together with junior medical doctors, have been provided extra.
In depth: ‘We’re at conflict … The local weather disaster is already right here’
The reason for the fireplace in Rhodes has not but been recognized. Though authorities have recommended that arson is suspected, there isn’t any doubt that the extended heatwave in Europe, brought on by the local weather disaster, and windy circumstances have allowed the fires to unfold as far and burn so long as they’ve. As temperatures proceed to rise, we are able to anticipate extra flammable landscapes to catch hearth simply and keep that method for longer durations of time.
A vacation turned nightmare
Regardless of the hazard of the acute warmth and the continued wildfires, airways together with easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways are persevering with to fly to Rhodes, at the same time as authorities attempt to get vacationers to security away from the island. A senior conservative has accused journey companies nonetheless flying individuals to Rhodes of “profiteering”. Different airways have cancelled all flights quickly, however there isn’t any indication that this can go on indefinitely.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Overseas Workplace so as to add Rhodes to its “purple listing” and to advise British nationals towards all journey except it’s completely essential – this might permit these with insurance coverage to assert it for cancelled journeys. The Overseas Workplace has inspired British vacationers who’re there to observe the steerage set out by the native authorities, however has defended its resolution to not discourage British vacationers from going to Rhodes, saying that individuals are in a position to make “knowledgeable choices”.
In the meantime, holidaymakers have been sheltering in faculties, leisure centres and motels to get away from the inferno inching its method by the islands. Vacationers have described the chaos and confusion as they tried to hurry themselves and their family members to security – one described getting caught up within the wildfires as a “near-death expertise”. To make issues simpler for individuals who are caught, Greece’s international ministry has mentioned it is going to arrange a devoted assist desk for vacationers who’re going again residence and tour operators have ordered empty constitution flights to land in Rhodes “to choose up travellers who want to depart the island”.
Permitting fires to rage
Nearly a yr in the past precisely, the Guardian reported that Europe had endured a document quantity of fireside harm in 2022: over 515,000 hectares of land had been burned throughout international locations within the EU, which is 4 occasions the typical recorded since 2006. In keeping with the European Forest Hearth Data System, by 18 June this yr greater than 119,000 hectares of land had already been burned. That was earlier than the state of affairs in Greece started.
Wildfires negatively influence each the setting and the standard of life for individuals residing close to areas the place they usually escape. They pollute water assets; considerably lower air high quality; and destroy ecosystems by lack of vegetation. Additionally they dampen tourism, which for international locations like Greece might be actually damaging for his or her economic system (tourism accounts for 18% of its GDP and one in 5 jobs are within the business).
Low depth fires that exit by themselves can really be good for the setting by encouraging soil fertility. Nonetheless the excessive depth of the wildfires that we have now been seeing the world over and most just lately in Greece means timber and soil can not get well wherever close to as shortly. If nothing is completed, wildfires will improve by a 3rd within the subsequent 26 years, and can double by the tip of the century, destroying locations which might be at the moment unaffected by these violent blazes.
As for the Greek authorities, it’s conscious of the dimensions of the issue it faces. Authorities consultants are imagined to fly into Rhodes and different affected areas to guage the dimensions of the influence, with a view to get the compensatory course of going. The prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, instructed parliament yesterday: “For the following few weeks we should be on fixed alert. We’re at conflict, we’ll rebuild what we misplaced, we’ll compensate those that have been damage”. He added: “The local weather disaster is already right here, it is going to present itself in every single place within the Mediterranean with higher disasters.”
What else we’ve been studying
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Football | Trevor Francis, the former England forward and the first player to be transferred in Britain for £1m, has died at the age of 69. Francis had a distinguished career that started with his Birmingham City debut at 16 and included spells with Forest, Manchester City, Sampdoria, Atalanta and Rangers.
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The front pages
“Climate crisis link to heatwave fires undeniable, say scientists” – that’s our Guardian front-page lead today while the Daily Express has “Race to rescue Britons in Greek wildfires ‘nightmare’”. The Times says “30,000 left in holiday limbo after Rhodes fires” while the Daily Mirror has “Rhodes holiday terror … We ran for our lives”. “Knight of the Rhodes” – the Metro praises a British man who helped with evacuation efforts, and you might say there’s the reverse of the medal in the i: “‘Irresponsible’ airlines flew tourists into wildfire zone”. The Daily Mail goes undercover to allege “Lawyers charging up to £10,000 to make fake asylum claims”. Top story in the Financial Times is “Credit Suisse hit with $388mn fines for ‘significant failures’ in Archegos crash”, while the Daily Telegraph splashes with “Bank boss pressured to launch Farage leak inquiry”.
Today in Focus
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A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad
Peeps Nicol entered her first powerlifting competition last year when she was 71. Nicol, who has multiple sclerosis, had thought that her triathlete husband, Brian, would look after her “when I got really disabled with MS”. That scenario changed when Brian was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He died in 2020, in Spain. After his death, Nicol (pictured above) returned to England and moved to Weston-super-Mare, near to one of her daughters. A chance advertisement for a local health centre in her new town led her to a trainer, who suggested resistance training.
Nicol was perhaps an unlikely powerlifter, but says: “There was something about the idea that appealed. The idea of becoming bigger and stronger, and being able to look after myself.” She spoke with writer Paula Cocozza for the series A new start after 60 describing herself as having previously been “really unfit”, and saying she was keen to see how far she could push a 70-something body. Turns out, quite a lot: Nicol can now deadlift 55kg and plans to enter the international powerlifting competition for her age group. Her training, though, has been about more than reps and weights on the bench press. “It has made an almighty difference to how I feel about myself,” she says. “I can look after myself.”
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