Warning for tourists in Greece after four dead & more missing in record temperatures

Tourists in the sweltering heat in Athens (AFP via Getty Images)
Tourists in the sweltering heat in Athens (AFP via Getty Images)

Greece has issued an urgent warning to travellers after the death of four holidaymakers during a severe heatwave.

Authorities issued a level three heat alert following three consecutive days where the mercury exceeded 38C, forcing the closure of the Acropolis and other tourist sites.

Greek state TV meteorologist Panos Giannopoulos said: “In the 20th century we never had a heatwave before 19 June. We have had several in the 21st century, but none before 15 June.”

Many primary schools and nurseries across the country were closed to protect students from the heat, which is expected to recede on Saturday.

In Athens, tourists stopped at drinking fountains to cool their heads and necks. Locals sat in air conditioned rooms set up by the city, using hand held fans to create a breeze.

The Acropolis hill is home to the Parthenon, one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. More than four million people visited the site last year.

Earlier on Tuesday, a fire at a cookware and food container factory in an area north of Athens sent clouds of thick black smoke into the sky.

Fourteen fire trucks and 42 firefighters were sent to the incident in the suburb of Kifisa.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Last year, rising temperatures fuelled wildfires that tore through popular holiday destinations including Corfu and Rhodes.

In August, a fire in the northern Evros region destroyed an area larger than New York City and killed at least 20 people - the deadliest European blaze of 2023.

Erratic rain also caused some of the worst flooding on record, damaging crops and livelihoods.

Similar conditions were seen last year across much of southern Europe, including Portugal, France, Spain and Italy where fires caused dozens of deaths.