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Updates: Greek Coast Guard Evacuating Residents of Rovies, Evia

ATHENS — Greece's coast guard helped with evacuations Wednesday on the island of Evia, where residents escaping wildfires had fled to a beach for safety, and fire crews across the country struggled to contain new blazes amid the country's worst heat wave in decades.

The European Union sent assistance to Greece and other countries in southeast Europe that are grappling with huge wildfires after a blaze Tuesday burned more than 100 homes and businesses near the Greek capital of Athens.

Evacuations were also taking place in Greece's southern Peloponnese region, which was facing a major fire. The coast guard said about 85 people were stranded on a beach in Evia, adding that private boats were also helping in the evacuation.

The blaze is spreading fast, burning through a pine forest with flames reaching 20 meters, police reported.

Flames have reached the road from the coastal town of Limni to Rovies, and police banned traffic there.

The situation is very difficult on the island of Evia, where a great fire has been burning dense forest since the previous day, the fire brigade said earlier on Wednesday.

No deaths or severe injuries have been reported from any of the Greek wildfires.

Authorities have had to evacuate the residents of more than 10 settlements and villages to safety since Tuesday, among them those of Retsinolakko, Kalamoudi, Chronia, Sipiada, Kourkouli, Skepasti, Damia, St David, Koulouros, Marouli, Rovies and Paleochori.

The coast guard said about 85 people were stranded on a beach near the village of Rovies, adding that private boats were also helping in the evacuation. 

The Central Greece Region governor Fanis Spanos was in Rovies, and told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency's that the flames were very close to the houses "and we have an obligation to save the people first and foremost."

Residents in the area received a new message from the 112 emergency number advising them to evacuate Rovies and Paleochori as they are in immediate danger from the fire, while the road has closed in order to send reinforcements toward Kalamoudi, the Monastery of St. David the Elder and Drymonas.

A short while ago, fire fighters saw huge flames surround the village Damia, while the fire front careered out of control, surrounding villages and trapping the people and fire fighters within.

Fire fighting vehicles have become trapped in various areas as roads between the village of Damia and Paleochori are no longer passable. Three aircraft and one helicopter are continuing to drop tonnes of water but there are multiple fronts and calls for help, either from the air or the ground are constantly coming in.

An EU disaster response group said assistance, including firefighters and water-dropping planes, were being sent from EU members to Italy, Greece, Albania and North Macedonia.

“Following the situation with great concern. European solidarity is at work to fight these terrible fires,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a tweet.

Three fire-fighters suffer light burn injuries after flames surround village of Kourkouli

Three fire-fighters were taken to the Mantoudi Health Centre for first aid on Wednesday after they suffered light burn injuries while fighting the forest fire surrounding the village Kourkouli, on the island of Evia.

The fire-fighters had fought a nightmarish battle against the flames that circled the village on all sides, trapping both fire-fighters, fire-fighting vehicles and local residents within. Three Canadair fire-fighting aircraft and one helicopter are fighting the flames from above and receiving constant calls for aid, as the fire fronts are multiplying and burning out of control.

According to the director of the 5th health region, Fotis Seretis, the burns are very minor and do not engender concern.

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