Source AP ©

France, Italy and Cyprus help Greece fight forest fires on Rhodes Island

France, Italy and Cyprus are sending firefighting aircraft to help battle a massive forest fire raging for the fourth day on the Aegean island of Rhodes, authorities said Friday.

Eight water-dropping planes, including two from Italy, and eight helicopters are already tackling the blaze which broke out on Rhodes on Tuesday, the fire department said. Strong winds overnight and on Friday have hampered firefighting efforts.

Thousands of acres (hectares) are believed to have been burned, but the fire department said it could not give a complete tally of the damage while the fire was still burning. None of the island's major tourist areas or hotels were under threat.

Dozens of fire trucks and water tanker vehicles, 100 soldiers and 160 firefighters are involved in the effort, the fire department said. Reinforcement vehicles are expected to arrive on the island from northern Greece and from the Greek capital of Athens.

Cyprus was sending one more helicopter and two planes from France were expected on the island, where authorities declared a disaster on Wednesday.

Last year, devastating forest fires killed more than 60 people and destroyed large swathes of southern Greece.

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