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Monday, January 24, 2022

Qatar sends search, rescue team to Greece as wildfires rage


Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes as ‘devastating’ forest fires continue to ravage the country.

An equipped search and rescue has been dispatched to Greece to assist in battling a series of “catastrophic” wildfires in the country, authorities have announced.

The Qatari delegation was transported by a Qatar Emiri Airforce plane and includes officers from the International Search and Rescue Group of the Internal Security Lekhwiya Force, by order of Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The team will aid in ongoing search and rescue operations in the European nation as fires continue to spread across the country.

For the past week, uncontrolled wildfires have swept through several parts of Greece in what is considered the country’s “worst heatwave in more than 30 years,” with temperatures exceeding 40C (104F).

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed as the inferno tore through thousands of acres of forestland, leaving hundreds of animals dead in its path. Residents have described “losing entire villages to flames”.

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate the island via ferries and fishermen’s boats, with “apocalyptic” scenes emerging on social media.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece had suffered a “nightmarish summer,” adding that the government’s priority “has been, first and foremost, to protect human lives.” He added that the government plans to reimburse those affected by the fires and would designate the burned land as areas for reforestation.

Qatar’s team will join over 700 firefighters from Greece, Cyprus and France in fighting the growing blaze in the north of Athens.

Scattered wildfires

The severe heatwave has also seen wildfires erupting across several countries in southern Europe, including Turkey, Albania, Spain and Italy.

In Turkey alone, around 132 destructive fires have erupted across southern and other parts of the country in what has been labelled as the country’s worst infernos in modern history.

So far, eight casualties have been reported and the European Forest Fire Information System says at least 118,789 hectares of land have been burned.

Internal Security Lekhwiya Force heading to Greece Twitter/@Marsalqatar.

Read also: Qatar’s amir sends Lekhwiya rescue team to Turkey amid raging wildfires

On 30 July, Qatar dispatched a team from the Gulf state’s International Search and Rescue Group of the Internal Security Lekhwiya Force to Turkey to assist with rescue operations.

Meanwhile, in Italy, over 57 fires erupted in the Calabria region, leading to two deaths from smoke inhalation in the town of San Lorenzo on Friday, according to Al Jazeera.

Italian authorities said the victims were trying to extinguish the flames in their olive grove.

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