Wildfires burn across Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey in heatwave bringing temperatures above 40C

At least five people have been wounded and holidaymakers evacuated after wildfires devastated a pine wood near a beach in Pescara, Italy, as one of the worst heatwaves in decades swept across south-east Europe.

A five-year-old girl was taken to hospital but her condition is not believed to be life-threatening, according to reports.

About 800 people were evacuated from their homes, including a convent of nuns, after a fire broke out in the 53-hectare (131-acre) Pineta Dannunziana nature reserve, as the fires continue to be active on different fronts.

“We had to evacuate several homes and beach resorts due to the smoke,” said Carlo Masci, the mayor of Pescara. “The biggest problem is the hot wind. We are doing the best we can to limit the damage.”

More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, Italy’s national fire service said.

“In the last 24 hours, firefighters have carried out more than 800 interventions: 250 in Sicily, 130 in Puglia and Calabria, 90 in Lazio and 70 in Campania,” the service tweeted.

Wildfires have also broken out across much of south-eastern Europe, including Spain, Greece and Turkey, who are dealing with one of the most severe heatwaves in decades, with temperatures rising above 40C (104F), forcing hundreds to evacuate.

Smoke billows from the Dannunziana nature reserve as people watch from the beach at Pescara on Sunday. Photograph: Lorenzo Dolce/EPA

According to EU data, this year’s fire season has been significantly more destructive than average.

More than 200 people were taken to safety from the seaside around Catania in Sicily, while dozens of villages were evacuated in tourist hotspots in southern Turkey, where wildfires that have killed eight people raged for a fifth day.

Fanned by soaring temperatures and strong winds – with experts saying that global heating increases the frequency and intensity of such blazes – Turkey is suffering its worst fires in at least 10 years, with nearly 95,000 hectares burnt so far this year, compared with an average of 13,516 at the same point in the years between 2008 and 2020.

A neighbourhood in the tourist city of Bodrum has been evacuated, CNN Türk reported, as strong winds fanned flames from the nearby Milas district.

Unable to leave by road, 540 residents were taken to hotels by boats, the channel said.

People were also evacuated from the resort city of Antalya, and two bodies were found in that region on Sunday, taking the number of people killed to eight.

Turkey’s defence ministry released satellite images showing the extent of the damage, with forest areas turned black and smoke still visible.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been criticised after it emerged that Turkey has no firefighting planes, even though one-third of its territory is forested and fires are becoming increasingly frequent.

Meanwhile, a major blaze broke out early on Saturday near Patras in western Greece.

Five villages have been evacuated and eight people were hospitalised with burns and respiratory problems in the region, which remains on alert.

The mayor of the nearby village of Aigialeias, Dimitris Kalogeropoulos, called it “an immense catastrophe”.

“We slept outside overnight, terrified that we would not have a house when we woke up,” a resident of Lambiri told Greek TV station Skai.

In Spain, dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling a wildfire that broke out on Saturday afternoon near the San Juan reservoir, about 40 miles east of Madrid.