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2 Killed As Greek Firefighting Helicopter Crashes Into Sea

Athens: 

Two people were killed after a firefighting helicopter with four crew members aboard crashed into the sea off Greece, the coastguard and fire service said on Thursday.

The two men, from Romania and Moldova, had been recovered unconscious in the water off the island of Samos on Wednesday evening and taken to the hospital there.

Efforts to resuscitate them failed, a spokeswoman for the coastguards told AFP.

The other crew members, the Romanian pilot and a Greek colleague, had been saved, the emergency services said.

State television ERT said the accident occurred when the helicopter was resupplying with sea water to fight a fire that broke out on Wednesday afternoon near the village of Paleochori, in the southwest of the Aegean island.

The fire continued to burn on Thursday, fanned by strong winds.

Around 100 firefighters and 15 vehicles, backed up by an army of volunteers, were on site to tackle it, the authorities said.

An inquiry has been launched into the cause of the fire.

Greece is prone to wildfires. Last year, they killed three people and destroyed 130,000 hectares (1,300 square kilometres) of forest.

Much of Western Europe is witnessing a heatwave.

Scientists say extreme weather events such as heatwaves and droughts, which make wildfires more likely, are linked to climate change. They are expected to become even more frequent, more prolonged and more intense in the future.

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