Greece wildfires: Blaze forces evacuations on island of Samos

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Media caption,

Wildfire heads for Samos beach

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from hotels and beaches in Greece as firefighters tackle dozens of wildfires across the country.

About 700 firefighters were deployed over the weekend as the fires spread, fanned by strong winds and hot, dry conditions, officials said.

One of the worst fires, on the island of Samos, forced authorities to transfer people from several hotels.

Wildfires often occur in Greece as temperatures rise in dry summer months.

On Sunday, Greece's head of civil protection warned of a "high risk" of fires breaking out in several areas, including the southern Peloponnese region and on Crete.

The fire on Samos over the weekend led to the evacuation of about 1,000 tourists and residents from popular beaches on the east of the island, Greek news agency ANA reports.

Coastguard vessels collected bathers from the beaches of Glykoriza and Proteas, who were then taken to an indoor sports stadium in the nearby town of Pythagoreio, ANA said.

Images posted on social media showed clouds of smoke sweeping across the island as people were taken away by boat.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from beaches on Samos island

The blaze had largely been brought under control on Monday, the fire department said.

Separately, two people in their forties were arrested in the Peloponnese for deliberately starting fires, the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reports.

One is alleged to be responsible for a forest fire in the region, while the other is believed to have started three different fires.

Earlier this month, fires ripped through a "unique, untouched pine forest" on the Greek island of Evia in what was described as a "huge ecological disaster".

Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby villages as the blaze ravaged the dense forest.