Greece: Two pilots killed in firefighting plane crash as wildfires rage

Two Greek air force pilots have died when their Canadair water-bombing plane crashed while battling a forest fire on the island of Evia, the defence ministry said.

"A three-day mourning period is declared in the Armed Forces for the loss of life, in the line of duty, of the Air Force officers and pilots of the firefighting aircraft CL-215, which was operating in Evia," the Greek defence ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Greek fire department said earlier the Canadair aircraft crashed into a ravine close to where the fire started on Sunday. Footage on state TV ERT showed the plane clipping a tree before falling nose-first and exploding.

"A Greek Canadair plane, with at least two people on board, crashed near Platanisto," a village in Evia, fire department's spokesperson Yannis Artopios said.

The plane was among at least three other aircraft and around a hundred firefighters in the fight against the flames on Evia.

The accident occurred as Greece battled wildfires on three major fronts, including the tourist islands of Rhodes and Corfu, with many of the country's regions listed at extreme risk of dangerous forest fires exacerbated by strong winds.

The very hot weather comes after a weekend of intense heat as thousands of locals and tourists fled forest fires on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu, with the prime minister warning the heat-battered nation is "at war" with the flames.

Human-caused climate crisis

Scientists from the World Weather Attribution group said Tuesday the heatwaves that have hit parts of Europe and North America this month would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate crisis.

"We have another difficult summer ahead of us," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the cabinet.

WWF Greece on Tuesday said 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of forest and other land had been scorched by fire in the country just in the past week.

In the capital Athens the heat is expected to reach 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), a nd hit up to 44C in central Greece, according to the national weather forecaster EMY.

Authorities evacuated nearly 2,500 people from the Greek island of Corfu on Monday, after tens of thousands of people had already fled blazes on the island of Rhodes, with many frightened tourists scrambling to get home on evacuation flights.

More than 260 firefighters were still battling flames for an eighth consecutive day on Rhodes, supported by nine planes and two helicopters.


Source: TRT