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A Greek firefighting plane crashed on Tuesday while battling a wildfire

Rhodes, Greece:

A Greek water bomber plane crashed on Tuesday while battling a wildfire on the island of Euboea as hundreds of firefighters struggled to fend off blazes still raging in Rhodes and Corfu amid a new wave of high temperatures.

The fire department said the Canadair plane crashed into a ravine near where the fire started on Sunday. Footage on state television ERT showed the plane cutting through a tree before falling nose-first and exploding.

“A Greek Canadair plane, with at least two people on board, crashed near Platanisto”, a village in Euboea, spokesman Yannis Artopios said.

The plane was among at least three other planes and around 100 firefighters battling the blazes in Euboea.

The accident happened as Greece battled wildfires on three major fronts, including the tourist islands of Rhodes and Corfu, with many parts of the country listed at extreme risk of dangerous wildfires exacerbated by high winds.

The hot weather comes after a weekend of intense heat as thousands of locals and tourists fled wildfires on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu, with the prime minister warning the heat-stricken nation is “at war” with the blazes.

Scientists from the group World Weather Attribution said on Tuesday that the heat waves that hit parts of Europe and North America this month would have been nearly impossible without human-induced climate change.

“We have another difficult summer ahead of us,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the cabinet.

WWF Greece said on Tuesday that 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of forest and other land had been burned in the country in the past week.

In the capital Athens, the heat is expected to reach 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) and reach 44C in central Greece, according to national meteorologist EMY.

Authorities evacuated nearly 2,500 people from the Greek island of Corfu on Monday, after tens of thousands had already fled fires on the island of Rhodes, with many frightened tourists rushing home on evacuation flights.

More than 260 firefighters were still fighting the flames for an eighth consecutive day in Rhodes, supported by nine planes and two helicopters.

A source at Rhodes airport operators Fraport said on Tuesday the situation had normalized, with traffic levels consistent with the peak of the summer season at one of Greece’s main travel destinations.

Greece’s Transport Ministry said more than 2,100 people returned home on emergency flights on Sunday and Monday.

Fires were also raging on Greece’s second largest island, Evia, where Greek civil protection authorities issued a nighttime evacuation order in a northern locality.

Mitsotakis said Greece’s state apparatus faced a “major challenge” as the prolonged heat wave and successive wildfires put officials on 24-hour alert for “several weeks”.

Mercury hit 46.4C in Gythio on the southern Peloponnese peninsula on Sunday, but fell short of the nationwide hottest temperature on record of 48C.

Mitsotakis warned the country faces “three more difficult days ahead” before high temperatures are expected to ease from Thursday.

“Let’s protect our house”

The severe heat wave in Greece also affected much of southern Europe and northern Africa.

In Algeria, at least 34 people died as wildfires raged through residential areas, forcing mass evacuations.

In southeastern France, authorities issued a highest-level fire alert in the Bouches-du-Rhône region on Monday, warning that weather conditions make the risk of fires “very high compared to normal summers”.

In the Albanian capital, Tirana, temperatures topped 40C on Tuesday, prompting hospitals to open a series of urgent care centers to treat heat-related illnesses.

On average, more than 100 patients a day are flocking to each heat center across the country, with ailments linked to soaring temperatures including blood pressure problems, dizziness and fainting, said Skender Brataj, who oversees Albania’s national emergency medical care center.

Exceptional temperatures in Greece have forced key tourist sites like the Acropolis in Athens to close during the hottest hours of the day.

Vassilis Kikilias, Greece’s Civil Protection Minister, said crews fought more than 500 fires across the country for 12 consecutive days.

The fires are particularly devastating on islands like Rhodes and Corfu where the tourist season is in full swing and hotels are often full.

Volunteers had come to the aid of foreign tourists in northern Rhodes where nearly 200 people are still camping at a school after being evacuated from the fires on Saturday.

“I can’t believe they are so nice, they have given so much in every way,” said Christine Moody, a 69-year-old British tourist, who was on her first holiday in Greece when the fires broke out.

“I’m very moved,” she said.

In the village of Vati, in the southeast of the island, local mayor Vassilis Kalabodakis said the impact on the area was “tragic”.

“The village has been ordered to evacuate but we cannot abandon it,” he said. “We are fighting to protect our home.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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In 2023, the world witnessed a myriad of events that left a lasting impact on global affairs. From political developments and economic shifts to environmental challenges and breakthroughs in science and technology, the year was marked by significant changes and a sense of urgency for collective action. Here’s an overview of some of the latest world news in 2023.

Political Unrest and Diplomatic Strides:
In the political arena, several regions experienced unrest and geopolitical tensions. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East continued to dominate headlines, with efforts towards peace and stability remaining elusive. However, there were also moments of diplomatic breakthroughs as nations engaged in dialogues to ease tensions and work towards lasting solutions.

Economic Transformations:
The global economy faced both challenges and opportunities. Trade disputes between major powers affected markets, while some countries grappled with debt crises. On the other hand, emerging economies showed resilience and promising growth, fueling optimism for a more balanced global economic landscape.

Technological Advancements:
Innovation surged forward in the tech industry, with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and space exploration. Quantum computing achieved milestones, promising radical transformations across industries. Renewable energy sources gained traction, with many countries setting ambitious goals to combat climate change.

Climate Crisis and Environmental Resilience:
As the climate crisis intensified, extreme weather events wreaked havoc in various parts of the world. Wildfires, hurricanes, and floods reminded humanity of the urgent need for climate action. In response, governments and communities across the globe doubled down on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and protect biodiversity.

Health and Pandemic Management:
Health remained a global priority as countries continued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of new variants, vaccination efforts and public health measures remained crucial to curbing the spread of the virus. There were also significant advancements in medical research and technology, offering hope for better preparedness in handling future health crises.

Sports and Cultural Milestones:
Amidst the challenges, the world found moments of joy and unity through sports and culture. International sporting events brought together athletes from diverse backgrounds, promoting solidarity and camaraderie. Cultural exchanges and celebrations showcased the richness of human diversity and fostered mutual understanding.

In conclusion, the year 2023 was a dynamic period filled with significant events that shaped the course of history. From political unrest to technological advancements and environmental challenges, the world witnessed the complexities of the global landscape. While obstacles remained, there were also encouraging developments and collaborative efforts towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future for all nations. As we move forward, the lessons learned from these events serve as a reminder of the importance of collective action and cooperation to address shared global challenges.