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Deadly wildfires hit Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco; thousands evacuated

Thousands of firefighters are battling wildfires in Portugal, Spain and southwestern France, in the grip of a heatwave that shows no sign of easing.

In northern Portugal, a pilot died when his waterbombing plane crashed in the Foz Coa area, near the Spanish border.

Fires are ravaging areas of France’s Gironde region, where more than 12,000 people have been evacuated.




In southern Spain, near the Costa del Sol, about 2,300 people had to flee a wildfire spreading in the Mijas hills.

Holidaymakers on the beach in Torremolinos saw big plumes of smoke rising in the hills, where several aircraft were tackling the blaze.

The fires ravaged nearly 10,000 hectares in south of Bordeaux and near Teste-de-Buch.



Since Tuesday, temperatures have soared to 47C in Portugal and above 40C in Spain, leaving the countryside bone dry and fuelling the fires. More than 300 people have died from the heat in both countries, Spain’s Efe news agency reports.

Portugal’s fire hotspots are in the north – east of the city of Porto. Fires have destroyed 30,000 hectares this year, the largest area since the summer of 2017.

Other parts of the Mediterranean are affected too. In Italy, the government has declared a state of emergency in the desiccated Po Valley, the country’s longest river is no more than a trickle in some places.

In Greece, firefighters are tackling blazes in the Feriza area, about 50km south-east of Athens, and near Rethymno, on the north coast of Crete. Seven villages have been evacuated near Rethymno.

In northern Morocco, several villages had to be evacuated as fires swept through the Larache, Ouezzane, Taza and Tetouan provinces. One village was totally destroyed in the Ksar El Kebir area and at least one person died in a blaze.

France has also had sweltering heat of about 40C and expects more next week, with 16 departments on orange alert, for severe weather.

The head of France’s firefighters’ federation has warned of the impact global warming is having on civil protection.