[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Heatwave fuels Greek forest fires
Water truck on Mount Parnitha, north-west of Athens - 28/06/2007
The hot weather has created dry conditions, fuelling the fires
Dozens of forest fires have broken out across Greece, killing two men who were helping fight the fires in the centre of the country, officials have said.

The heatwave, one of the worst in Greek history, has also been blamed for the deaths of at least nine other people.

Temperatures have now dropped to below 40C after a nine-day period in which the mercury hit 46C in some areas.

High temperatures across south-east Europe have been blamed for dozens of other deaths, mostly in Romania.

Temperatures in Bucharest peaked at 45C on Tuesday. About 30 people are thought to have died so far as a result of the heat.

Two men in Turkey also died of heat-related heart attacks, while three elderly people died in Cyprus.

Athens blackout

The record-breaking heat in Greece has created tinder-dry conditions in the forests, helping to fuel the fires.

Fires have been burning from Macedonia and Thrace in the north to Attiki in the south, as well as on some Aegean islands.

A total of about 120 fires have been reported across Greece from over the past 36 hours, but fire service officials said most of them had been extinguished by Thursday afternoon.

Four men who had volunteered to fight the fires became trapped by the flames near the city of Larissa, in central Greece.

Two were killed but their two companions escaped, officials said.

Greece has 24 fire-fighting aircraft battling the flames, with another four on loan from France and Italy.

There were power blackouts in Athens as the overloaded power system proved unable to cope with the extra demand for electricity - mostly for air conditioning units.

But Greece's national weather service now says that cooler temperatures are on their way.

In pictures: Europe heatwave
25 Jun 07 |  In Pictures

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific