Firefighting plane crashes while battling wildfires on Greek island
Shocking footage shows the moment a firefighting plane clipped a tree before it crashed and exploded into a fireball in southern Greece. The crash occurred on the island of Evia and was aired in a state television broadcast on Tuesday.
The aircraft crashed into a ravine on the heights of Karystos, where a fire started on Sunday, according to Greek officials. The state broadcaster said the accident took place over the town of Karystos on the island of Evia, 40 miles east of Athens. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday the next days would be difficult, with conditions possibly improving after Thursday.
The clip showed the plane struggling before disappearing into a canyon. A fireball was seen moments later. Officials said two people were on board the plane. It was not immediately clear what had happened to them, but they have been described as ‘missing’. In Greece, a prosecutor on Rhodes launched an investigation into the causes of the fires and the preparedness and response of authorities, state broadcaster ERT said. It said about 10% of the island’s land area had burned.
The plane was among at least three other aircraft and around a hundred firefighters in the fight against the flames on Evia. The Greek air force said there were two airmen aboard the amphibious Canadair CL-215 plane when it crashed over the island. The two pilots missing were members of the Greek Air Force, according to information from the Greek Ministry of Defence, quoted by state TV ERT.
The plane appeared to clip a tree moments after it dropped water on the wildfire, causing it to bank suddenly to its right dangerously close to the ground. As the plane banked in the air for another fly-over, it rapidly lost altitude and was unable to make it over the hill, and instead nose-dived into the hillside. Two helicopters had rushed to the scene to carry out a search and rescue operation, the air force said. It gave no further details on the fate of the airmen. Hundreds of firefighters, helped by forces from Turkey and Slovakia, were battling blazes that have raged on the island of Rhodes since Wednesday and resurged in hot, windy conditions.
Greece has seen very high temperatures in recent weeks and they are set to rise through Wednesday to exceed 44 Celsius in some areas. More than 2,000 holidaymakers had returned home by plane on Monday and tour operators cancelled upcoming trips. TUI dropped flights to Rhodes through Friday. It said it had 39,000 customers on Rhodes as of Sunday evening. Tourism accounts for 18% of Greece’s economic output and one in five jobs. On Rhodes and many other Greek islands, reliance on tourism is even greater. Lefteris Laoudikos, whose family owns a small hotel in the seaside resort town of Kiotari, one of the epicentres of the fire over the weekend, said its 200 guests – mainly from Germany, Britain and Poland – evacuated in rental cars. Read the full story: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12335543/Firefighting-plane-crashes-explodes-disappearing-canyon-battling-wildfires-Greek-island.htmlito=msngallery
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