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Greek Officials Defend Wildfire Response

Firefighters in Greece continue to battle wildfires as officials defend their response amid unusually high temperatures and dry conditions. “We handled an operationally unique situation, with 586 fires in eight days during the worst weather conditions we’ve seen in 40 years,” Greece’s civil protection chief Nikos Hardalias said at a Tuesday news conference. “Never was there such a combination of adverse factors in the history of the fire service.” The government has pledged $586 million in aid to help those affected by the fires, including a massive blaze on Evia island that has been burning for more than a week. More than 900 firefighters have been working to bring the Evia fire under control. Wildfires in Greece are part of a wave of fires in many countries in Europe and across the Mediterranean in Algeria. The European Union has mobilized fire crews to help with blazes in Greece, Albania, Italy, Turkey and North Macedonia. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) has also mapped active fires in several other countries, including Spain, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine and Germany. An EFFIS map showed 334,515 hectares had burned this year as of Tuesday. That figure has more than doubled since July 22. It is also twice the average at this point in the year compared with data from 2008 to 2020. In Algeria, officials said wildfires there have killed at least 42 people, including 25 soldiers. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune tweeted Tuesday that the soldiers who died were martyrs who saved the lives of 100 people. The government has blamed arsonists for igniting the fires. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, AFP and Reuters. 

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