The ancient birthplace of the Olympics was evacuated Wednesday as more than 100 wildfires ravage large swaths of Greece in the midst of a record heatwave.
The evacuation of Olympia comes after scores of homes and businesses near the Greek capital of Athens were razed by the flames, with first responders pressed to douse the blazes.
“We are making a titanic effort on many fronts,” Civil Protection Chief Nikos Hardalias told the Associated Press. “According to our forecasts, tomorrow is expected to be a difficult day.
“The toughest part lies ahead of us,” he said. “The next days and weeks will be even harder. Our key target is to protect human lives.”
Haradalias said 118 wildfires broke out over just 24 hours, forcing evacuations along the southern Peloponnese region near Olympia.
About 90 people had to be evacuated by boat from the island of Evia, with private boats taking part in the life-saving flotilla, the wire service said.
The fires come as temperatures in Greece reached 113 degrees on Wednesday — the most severe heatwave in the Mediterranean nation since 1987.
“Following the situation with great concern,” European Union President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter. “European solidarity is at work to fight these terrible fires.”
Olympia, where the games were held from 776 BC to 393 AD, was also hit by wildfires in 2007, with the flames taking dozens of lives but sparing the ruins of ancient venues.
With Post wires