Firefighters battle wildfires raging across south-west Sardinia
Firefighters are working to put out wildfires that have spread quickly across parts of south-western Sardinia, destroying 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forest and forcing 1,500 people to be evacuated from their homes.
Many agricultural businesses and private properties have been damaged by the fires, which began on Saturday in the province of Oristano.
The EU on Sunday sent four firefighting planes, including two Canadair planes provided by France, to support 11 aircraft working to extinguish the fires raging close to 13 towns. Efforts have been hampered by strong and hot winds.
Newspapers in Sardinia described the fires as “apocalyptic”, with the damage equalling or potentially eclipsing that caused by wildfires in 1983 and 1994.
About 400 people were evacuated from their homes in the small town of Scano di Montiferro over the weekend, with hundreds more evacuated from towns and villages including Santu Lussurgiu, Cuglieri, Sennariolo, Tresnuraghes, Magomadas, Flussio and Tinnura.
“I put my family in the car and we escaped,” Carlo Inzis, the owner of a car parts business in Cuglieri told La Nuova Sardegna newspaper. “First we went to Sennariolo, then Macomer and then Bosa … In essence, we spent the whole night fleeing.”
Livio and Anna Sias told a similar story: “There were seven of us in the car … There were flames in front of our house – they were higher than the trees.”
There are fears the fires could spread to Nuoro, a province in the west of Sardinia. More than 7,000 firefighters and volunteers were working to put out the fires.
“The fires continue to be active on different fronts. All the available teams are there,” the Oristano firefighting unit said in a statement on Sunday.
Regional authorities declared a “state of calamity” as they sought funds from central government to repair the damage and support those affected economically. “We need an immediate support plan,” said Christian Solinas, the president of Sardinia.