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Floods and fires across Europe captured from space

es are battling blazes and searing temperatures that have surpassed 40 degrees Celsius, spawning fires in Greece, Italy and Macedonia.

Fire fighters battled some 1500 blazes within a 24-hour period in parts of central and southern Italy over the weekend. On Tuesday in Italys southern region of Puglia, thousands of tourists fled to beaches to escape a fast-burning fire and had to be rescued via boats and helicopters. Local media reports two elderly locals were killed trying to escape the flames.

On Thursday, fires continued to rage across Calabria and Abruzzo as strong winds thwarted fire-fighting efforts. According to the environmental group WWF, at least 4500 hectares of protected areas have burned in the past three weeks in Italy, with the hardest hit areas being Campania, Abruzzo, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia.

Although searing temperatures and tinder dry conditions are to blame for some of the fires, on Wednesday Italian politicians and forestry officials blamed some on arsonists.

On Thursday some 200 fires were reported burning across Greece, where temperatures have been as high as 45 C, with more than a dozen burning out of control. Peloponnese and the island of Cephalonia in the Adriatic off the peninsula's northwest coast are among the worst hit areas.

Major fires are visible from space satellites detect not only the smoke billowing from major conflagrations but also the burn scars left in their wake and even the fires themselves appearing as 'hotspots' when scanning the Earth's surface in infrared wavelengths.

For a decade now, ESA satellites have been continuously surveying fires burning across the Earths surface. Worldwide fire maps based on this data are now available to users online in near-real time through ESA's ATSR World Fire Atlas (WFA).

The WFA data are based on results from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) instrument onboard ESAs ERS-2 satellite and the Advance
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
27-Jul-2007


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