Wildfires torment Greece. California digs out from Hilary. What to know in extreme weather now

Aug 22, 2023, 11:46 AM

Local residents watch the wildfire in Avantas village, near Alexandroupolis town, in the northeaste...

Local residents watch the wildfire in Avantas village, near Alexandroupolis town, in the northeastern Evros region, Greece, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Gale-force winds are fanning the flames of wildfires across Greece, including 53 new blazes that broke out early Monday amid hot, dry and windy weather that has sucked moisture from vegetation. (AP Photo/Achilleas Chiras)

(AP Photo/Achilleas Chiras)

A nightmarish summer of wildfires for Greece took its deadliest turn yet on Tuesday when firefighters found the burned bodies of 18 people near the city of Alexandroupolis.

A hint of the scope of the fire can be seen in this image by Associated Press photographer Achilleas Chiras. The dead were believed to have been migrants who had crossed the nearby border with Turkey before falling victim to a major fire that was among dozens across the country being whipped by gale-force winds. Their deaths came after two people had died in fires Monday elsewhere in the country.

Nearby Spain continues to struggle with fires, too, including one on the tourist island of Tenerife that authorities said was arson. It’s forced the evacuation of more than 12,000 people. And in Canada, firefighters held back fires from destroying more structures in a scenic region of British Columbia in what one official called the most difficult days fighting fire in the province’s history.

Here’s what else is happening related to extreme weather and the climate right now:

—Two weeks after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century hit Hawaii, authorities said between 500 and 1,000 people are unaccounted for. Authorities are hoping many of those are survivors who simply haven’t checked in.

—In California, crews in mountain and desert towns were working to clear away mud and debris left behind by Tropical Storm Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Harold was closing in on the Texas coast and parts of Mexico, and Tropical Storm Franklin was due to make landfall Wednesday in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

—Experts say Hilary’s unusual path was the result of a variety of factors.

—In Japan, preparations were being made to release treated and diluted radioactive wastewater as early as Thursday from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that melted down 12 years ago. Scientists have generally agreed the water won’t hurt the environment, but the government has pledged to protect the country’s fishing industry from reputational harm.

—A 1-year-old girl died after being left inside a day care center’s van in Nebraska on Monday, as a heat wave settled in over the central United States.

—A few U.S. states are passing up billions of dollars being made available from the federal government to remove millions of dangerous lead pipes that can contaminate drinking water and damage brain development in children. Experts say some states and communities may be hesitant to take out loans to search for lead pipes.


“We mourn their loss … (and) the destruction of nature, (and) we are saddened by our inability to avert it. We must urgently take effective initiatives to ensure that this bleak reality does not become the new normality.” — Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on the deaths of 18 people in wildfires.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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Wildfires torment Greece. California digs out from Hilary. What to know in extreme weather now