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Wildfires reach Italian town of Catania

July 31, 2021

Firefighters in Italy continue to battle raging blazes. Late Friday, some 150 people were trapped in two seaside areas in the port city of Catania, before being rescued.

Le Capannina beach in Catania
Le Capannina beach in Catania, one of the many areas affected by the firesImage: ROBERTO VIGLIANISI via REUTERS

Firefighters in Italy were battling wildfires for the second day in a row on Saturday, with the blazes reaching the Sicilian port city of Catania.

Late Friday, some 150 people were trapped in two seaside areas in Catania, before eventually being evacuated by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.

The fires also forced the temporary closure of the region's airport, as part of a procedure to give precedence to air rescue and firefighting missions.

La Capannina beach resort destroyed

The fire brigade said they had been conducting 250 operations across the island of Sicily over the last 24 hours, of which 50 were in Catania alone.

The fires hit the area of the port city, destroying the local beach resort La Capannina, where images showed charred beach chairs and umbrellas.

Soaring temperatures

As temperatures soared towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), hot winds have fanned the flames across Sicily, with fires also erupting in Palermo province, causing ash to rain down on the island's capital, local media reported.

Earlier this week, fires swept across parts of southern Europe, including Spain and Turkey, while also ravaging the Italian island of Sardinia.

With climate change-fuelled wildfires more prevalent than in decades past, the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural
Organization, UNESCO, has urged governments around the world to include environmental studies as part of standard curriculums by 2025.

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jsi/jlw (AP, dpa, Reuters)