The Evros wildfire, now in its 11th day, has destroyed an area larger than New York City, the European Union-backed Copernicus Climate Change Service has said.
Fuelled by gale force winds and hot weather, the fire that began near the city of Alexandroupoli quickly spread across the Evros region, killing at least 20 people last week in Europe’s deadliest blaze this summer. It turned swathes of lush greenery into scorched earth and destroyed homes and livelihoods.
In a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service said the fire had ravaged at least 808.7 square kilometres.
New York City takes up 778.2 square kilometres. Copernicus said last week that the fire was the largest on European soil in years.
All but one of the dead are presumed to have been irregular migrants who crossed over from Turkey, evading police in the forest. Authorities fear more bodies may be found when the flames are put out, as Evros is a popular crossing into the EU for thousands of migrants and refugees each year.
Aircraft and hundreds of firefighters on the ground, including from Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Albania were battling the flames, the fire brigade said.
Authorities warned that risks from the fire remained high on Tuesday.
Summer wildfires are common in Greece but the government says extreme weather conditions which scientists link to climate change have made them worse this year. Greece’s deadliest fire on record killed 104 people outside Athens in 2018.