Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday evening warned of an extremely crucial situation in the country due to a bevy of devastating wildfires around the country – including a blaze raging just north of the greater Athens area – as gusty winds will succeed a punishing heatwave on Friday.

He said the worst wildfires remain the one just north of Athens, centered on the Varibobi township, another one in Ilia prefecture, in southwest Greece that is swirling around ancient Olympia, as well as in the northwest part of large Evia island.

Minutes after Mitsotakis called on citizens to avoid unnecessary movement outdoors, a civil defense notice was issued by SMS to users’ cell phones in the country. The message added that access to forests and forest areas is prohibited.

“Our priority is always protection of human life; protecting property and the natural environment follows, along with crucial infrastructure. Unfortunately, under these situations, the simultaneous achievement of all these goals is simply impossible,” he said in a nationally televised address.

He also called for unity and said “there will be time for criticism and self-criticism. But not now … if an order for evacuation is given, I ask you to please comply. Homes can be rebuilt; trees will grow again, but human life cannot be replaced,” he said.
Mitsotakis also promised that financial assistance will be offered to all citizens who suffered damages.

Civil defense authorities simultaneously announced that access to forests, national parks, urban parks etc. is prohibited.

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