Israel Is ‘Ready to Help’ As Over 50 Perish in Greece Wildfires

Firefighters look for missing people following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, Tuesday. (Reuters/Costas Baltas)

Israel stands ready to provide assistance to Greece, in the wake of fierce wildfires that have killed some 50 people there over the past several days, said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday. “I feel terrible for the citizens and residents of Greece who are dealing with these terrible fires that have cost the lives of dozens of people. Israel is prepared to offer whatever assistance it can, in both assistance on the ground and from the air in helping to put out the fire,” he added.

The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it was aware of several Israeli families who had been in the area where the wildfires rapidly spread Monday. The Ministry said that all Israelis were accounted for, and that it stood ready to provide assistance to those who needed it in order to leave the country.

The fires that have been raging around Athens have devastated several towns. The death toll in the fires jumped overnight Monday, when 26 bodies were found in the town of Rafina. The fires are attributed to a lack of rain over the past season, which has left many of the country’s forests extremely dry. Greece has issued an urgent plea for assistance. The government has declared a state of emergency over the fires.

Meanwhile, health officials in Israel were warning residents to be cautious over the next several days, as a strong heat wave hits the country. Temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (close to 38 C) are expected in the interior of the country, while temperatures in the mid-90s – along with very high humidity levels – will prevail on the coast. The Health Ministry urged vulnerable populations, including the elderly and those suffering from health problems to avoid excessive outdoor activity, advice that even the healthy would do well to follow, they said. Those who needed to be outdoors were urged to drink a great deal of water, and to remain indoors, in air-conditioned areas, as much as possible.

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