Greek governor says monuments of Olympia safe from fires 'for now'
An airplane drops water on a wildfire that broke out in a forest area in northern Athens. Angelos Tzortzinis/DPA
An airplane drops water on a wildfire that broke out in a forest area in northern Athens. Angelos Tzortzinis/DPA

As major fires burn continue to burn across Greece, an official said the monuments at Olympia, a key site of antiquity in the country's west, had been saved from approaching flames on Thursday.

"The site has been saved for the time being," the regional governor, Nektarios Farmakis, told state television early in the day, but warned that "the danger is not over."

He hoped the fire would be brought under control in the next few hours with the help of helicopters and firefighting planes, he said.

Wildfires burning across Greece have been caused by widespread droughts and unseasonably high temperatures that have soared to between 40 and 47 degrees Celsius during the past 10 days.

"We still have difficult days ahead of us," Civil Defence head Nikos Chardalias said late on Wednesday following an emergency meeting with the heads of the fire brigade.

Firefighters and volunteers battled throughout the night to bring fires under control that had threatened to reach the ancient temples of Olympia, the birthplace of the most famous and important sporting event in the ancient world.

"We are doing everything humanly possible to save Olympia," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told Greek state television.

Firefighting units and local authorities formed a last line of defence against the wildfires approaching the monuments and stadium of Olympia.

Early Thursday, light winds shifted the flames away from Olympia, according to reporters at the scene.

Powerful blazes continued to rage on the Euboea Peninsula and in many parts of the Peloponnese Peninsula early on Thursday.

Dozens of people had to be brought to safety by boat on the coast of Euboea, near the village of Rovies.

Numerous houses were destroyed and several villages evacuated.

A general view of a burnt building after a forest fire swept across the Varibobi area of northern Athens. Angelos Tzortzinis/DPA
A burnt-out home is pictured after a forest fire swept in the Varibobi area of northern Athens. Angelos Tzortzinis/dpa