Saturday July 20, 2024

Heatwave in Greece closes Athens Acropolis

June 13, 2024
Athens Acropolis seen in the background with tourists in the front of this undated image. — AFP/file
Athens Acropolis seen in the background with tourists in the front of this undated image. — AFP/file 

ATHENS: The Athens Acropolis, Greece´s most visited tourist site, was closed to the public during the hottest hours of Wednesday as the season´s earliest-ever heatwave swept the country, prompting school closures and health warnings.

The Unesco-listed archaeological site closed from midday to 5:00 pm (0900 to 1400 GMT), with temperatures topping 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in central Greece. Temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius are expected on Thursday as the phenomenon peaks, with up to 43 degrees forecast in the capital.

Meteorologists have noted this is the earliest heatwave -- which for Greece is temperatures exceeding 38 degrees Celsius for at least three days -- in recorded history.

“This heatwave will go down in history,” meteorologist Panos Giannopoulos said on state TV ERT.

“In the 20th century we never had a heatwave before June 19. We have had several in the 21st century, but none before June 15,” he said.

The climate crisis and civil protection ministry has warned of a very high risk of fires in the Attica region around Athens. Schools stayed closed in several regions of the country on Wednesday and will do so again Thursday, including in the capital, while the labour ministry has advised public-sector employees to work from home.

The ministry also ordered a pause from midday to 5:00 pm for outdoor work including food delivery, to Thursday. Sheltering under a parasol, electrician Fotis Pappous said he had started his workday a few hours earlier, at 6:00 am, on orders from his employer.