Heat Wave Knocks Out Greece

ATHENS – Near-100 degree temperatures sent Greeks, during the biggest holiday of the summer, scurrying to beaches and mountains and led municipal officials to open air-conditioned centers for people to have respite from the heat.

Forecasters had said it would hit 105 degrees but fell shy of that. Still, days of the thermometer pushing the century mark have made most people stay – except tourists – stay out of the sun.

It came during a three-day weekend that began with Dormition Day on August 15 and was expected to continue for a number of days with forecasters predicting sun and heat through much of the month.

Greeks and others packed the beaches in Athens, many of which are unlawfully and unlicensed and which charge people a fee to use public land.

The Athens Medical Association issued advisories for adequate cover, hydration and restriction of activities in the open.

There are only a few municipal swimming pools in the city, leaving people who can’t afford to get to the beach to suffer and wait for cooler weather. Air-conditioned museums also offered cool spots.

People in Thessaloniki headed to greater distances – east to the Chalkidiki peninsula or further to beaches in Kavala, and to the southern shores, in Pieria area.

The weather service forecast a general drop in temperatures on Aug. 18-19, with an increase in winds to help people deal with the discomfort.

The City of Athens opened six air conditioned centers, but only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Health Ministry advised people to avoid going out into the sun and hospitals and health centers to be on alert for patients suffering from effects of the heat although they’ve suffered big government cutbacks and are having trouble meeting emergency and other needs.