Large forest fire blazing near Athens

Flames are seen from a forest fire burning near the Greek seaside town of Loutraki on Sept 14, 2019.
Flames are seen from a forest fire burning near the Greek seaside town of Loutraki on Sept 14, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ATHENS (AFP) - More than 160 firefighters on Sunday (Sept 15) battled to contain a large fire near Athens blazing for a second day amid gale force winds, officials said.

And in another emergency, authorities evacuated dozens of people from two villages and a hotel on the island of Zakynthos after a new fire broke out on Sunday.

The fire department said the blaze near Athens burned in the mountains above Loutraki, a coastal resort some 60 kilometres west of Athens.

"The fire is burning near the top of the mountain," the fire department's deputy chief of operations Stefanos Kolokouris told state TV ERT.

"We are trying to create a perimeter, but the terrain is very difficult, with ravines," he said.

Four water bombers and six helicopters were participating in operations. Given a lack of roads in the area, two squads of firefighters had to be carried to the mountaintop by Super Puma helicopter, state agency ANA said.

Officials had already evacuated 50 people from a local monastery when the fire broke out on Saturday, but stressed that other inhabited areas were not in danger.

On Zakynthos, officials ordered the evacuation of the villages of Agalas and Keri in the south of the island. Some 120 tourists were also relocated to a safe area.

The Greek fire department on Sunday said it had been called to handle nearly 80 fires over the past 24 hours.

It has already faced more than 9,600 rural and urban fires this year.