The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism will send air assistance to fight a fire in central Evia that rages out of control and has led to the evacuation of four villages, the Civil Protection Secretary General said on Tuesday.
Breaking out in the early hours of the day at protected forestland, the fire covered parts of the island with dense smoke that was carried by the wind as far as Athens.
The coordinating body has set up a pool of firefighting airplanes provided by EU member-states when requested in disasters by fellow members, especially fires, known as "RescEU". Greece requested eight firefighting planes, and so far airplanes have taken off from Croatia and Italy. Other EU members are expected to respond also.
In a tweet, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Help and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said, "We are mobilizing the rescEU assets to respond to Greece activation of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU stands by Greece at this difficult time."
In an earlier message on Twitter, Stylianides said he was in constant touch with Greek authorities over fires in Evia and elsewhere and has already spoken with Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis and Secretary General Nikos Hardalias.