The Guardian - Little had prepared any of us on the Athens-bound flight for the sight of the great fire-induced clouds that swept either side of the plane as it made its descent on Friday.
News of the extreme heat engulfing Greece had spread beyond its borders all week, packaged in increasingly desperate language. Temperatures were breaking records few had ever imagined.
If Monday was bad, then Tuesday was worse. In some parts of the country, the mercury had hit 47C (117F), with thermal cameras on drones recording the ground temperature in downtown Athens at 55C.
By Wednesday, we were hearing that entire tracts of suburban forest on the Greek capital’s northern fringes had gone up in flames.
Infernos seemingly redolent of Dante’s hell had incinerated everything in their path; friends had lost homes; thousands had been evacuated with residents and tourists fleeing blighted zones by any means possible.
Terraces, an Athenian’s respite against the blazing heat, had been transformed into ash-laden no-go zones.
“It’s been crazy over here. Between the extreme heat and the wildfires, it feels apocalyptic,” Eleni Myrivili, a friend recently appointed to the role of Athens’ first chief heat officer, wrote in an email on Thursday as the army was deployed to assist firefighters.
“Ash is raining down on us here in Athens.”
From the sky, it was frighteningly clear....READ MORE
TheGuardian.com, formerly known as Guardian.co.uk and Guardian Unlimited, is a British news and media website owned by the Guardian Media Group.