With seasonal forest and brush fires raging on the Greek island of Evia, west of Athens, the European Union has mobilised water tanker aeroplanes from Italy and Spain to be dispatched to the affected regions from the bloc’s rescEU reserve after the Greek government requested Brussels’ assistance.

The EU’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, met in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visited the Greek Civil Protection Crisis Centre to be briefed along with the Minister for the Protection of Citizens Michalis Chrysochoidis and oversee the operation carried out by rescEU.

The European satellite mapping system Copernicus is also helping to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas.

The fires on Evia erupted just over a year after wildfires killed 103 people in areas north of Athens and nearly wiped out the seaside village of Mati. The high death toll was largely due to the construction of illegal buildings that blocked access to the sea and escape routes.

Revelations that the former ruling government, the radical leftist party SYRIZA, had no disaster or evacuation plan in place, angered a wide swath of the population in Greece and left the European Union sceptical that the previous Greek government had the ability to manage the logistics when major natural disasters occur.