HomeWeatherPentagon urged to send helicopters to Greece wildfires

Pentagon urged to send helicopters to Greece wildfires


The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called on Department of Defense to provide further support to Greece as the country fights dozens of wildfires.

Bob Mendez, in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday, said the country was “a close and valued NATO ally” that required additional assistance from the US amid record breaking temperatures and wildfires that have ravaged the country since last week.

Thousands of residents have been forced from their homes on Evia, Greece’s second largest island after Crete. The local mayor, Giannis Kontzias, told Greece’s Open TV that it was “already too late, the area has been destroyed”.

It is among dozens of wildfires that have forced Greece to ask for international help, with Cyprus, France and Germany — as well as the UK, Romania, and Ukraine — sending firefighters, helicopters and planes to Greece. Other countries are also assisting.

Mr Mendez, in his letter to Mr Austin, said he welcomed the deployment of US Navy aircraft to Greece to help monitor “the threats to infrastructure and residential areas”, but that further help — including helicopters — were necessary.

“These efforts have saved lives and I urge the Department to fulfill additional requests for assistance, including the deployment of CH-47 helicopters,” he wrote. “I urge the Administration to take all measures necessary to support the people of Greece in their time of need.”

Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has described the situation as a “nightmarish summer,” and that his government’s priority “has been, first and foremost, to protect human lives.”

At least two people have been confirmed dead in the wildfires, with a firefighter reported dead north of Athens following an injury at the weekend. Around two dozen are in hospital with injuries, and the full extent of damage remains unclear.

Many wildfires remain to be extinguished.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

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