A firefighting aircraft crashed near Karystos on the Greek island of Evia (Greece), claiming the lives of both pilots in a tragic incident. The crash occurred moments after the plane dropped water over a raging wildfire in the area. The low-flying aircraft appeared to clip a tree with its wing before crashing into a canyon, resulting in a devastating fireball. The pilots who lost their lives were 34-year-old Commander Christos Moulas and 27-year-old co-pilot Periclis Stefanidis, both serving in the Greek Hellenic Air Force (HAF). The nation mourns their sacrifice as they bravely attempted to protect citizens, property, and the environment.
Minister of Greece National Defence Confirms
Nikos Dendias, the Minister of National Defence, confirmed the unfortunate demise of both pilots. In a statement, he expressed deep sadness over the loss of the lives of these Air Force officers and firefighting aircraft operators. Their dedication and sacrifice to safeguarding the lives and property of citizens and the country’s environment are deeply respected. The minister conveyed heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the fallen heroes. As a mark of respect, the armed forces declared a three-day mourning period, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis cancelled a planned visit to Cyprus.
Thousands Evacuated as Greece Wildfires Ravage the Country
Wildfires continue to ravage parts of Greece, including the popular tourist destination of Rhodes, prompting the evacuation of thousands of holidaymakers, including Britons, from affected areas. New estimates suggest that up to 10% of the land on Rhodes has been consumed by the wildfires. The situation has been dire, with flames surrounding hotels and forcing people to seek refuge on beaches, sun loungers, or streets. The soaring temperatures above 40°C (104°F) in certain areas, including parts of Rhodes, have made firefighting efforts increasingly challenging.
Worsening Situation Prompts New Evacuation Warning
As the wildfires spread and intensify, authorities issued a new evacuation warning for the inland village of Vati on Rhodes, urging residents to move to safer areas, such as Lindos, to avoid potential danger. The Greek fire department has been tirelessly battling 53 wildfires across the country in the last 24 hours, with multiple flare-ups on Evia and in the region of Achaea, west of Athens. Local officers and arson investigators are actively probing the cause of the fires.
Corfu’s Heroic Efforts to Battle Wildfires
On the island of Corfu, residents have displayed remarkable resilience in the face of the wildfires. While authorities advised people in three areas to evacuate, there have been no reported casualties or destruction of inhabited buildings, thanks to the valiant efforts of firefighting teams and courageous locals. Residents have used wet towels and shovels to fend off flames encroaching upon their homes, while firefighting planes and helicopters have conducted water drops to suppress the fires.
Sea Evacuations in Corfu
Desperate measures were taken in Corfu to ensure the safety of individuals fleeing wildfires. Organized sea evacuations transported people away from the affected areas to more secure locations on the beach. Though the situation remains critical, the community’s resilience and the tireless efforts of emergency responders are helping mitigate the damage caused by the wildfires.
The wildfires in Greece have brought about a heartbreaking loss of lives and widespread destruction. The heroic efforts of firefighting teams and the solidarity displayed by communities are commendable as they battle to protect lives, property, and the environment. The nation mourns the loss of Commander Christos Moulas and co-pilot Periclis Stefanidis, two heroes who gave their lives while striving to safeguard their fellow citizens. As the wildfires continue to spread, authorities and volunteers are working tirelessly to bring the situation under control and provide assistance to those in need.