Athens skies turn orange thanks to African dust clouds

Skies over southern Greece turned orange on Tuesday as dust clouds from North Africa engulfed the Acropolis and other Athens landmarks.

Strong southerly winds carried the dust from the Sahara Desert in the last hours of daylight.

The skies are predicted to clear on Wednesday as winds shift and move the dust, with temperatures dipping.

On Tuesday, the daily high in parts of the southern island of Crete topped 30 degrees Celsius, more than 20 degrees higher than what was registered in much of northern Greece.

Tourists walk at the Lycabettus Hill in Athens with the ancient Acropolis Hill in the background. Credit: AP

The strong southerly winds over the past few days have also fanned unseasonably early wildfires in the country's south.

The fire service said on Tuesday evening that a total 25 wildfires broke out across the country in the past 24 hours.

Three people were arrested on the Aegean Sea resort island of Paros on suspicion of accidentally starting a scrub blaze on Monday, it added.

No significant damage or injuries were reported, and the fire was quickly contained.

The dust clouds were still covering Athens on Wednesday morning. Credit: AP

Another blaze that broke out on Crete near a naval base was brought under control Tuesday.

Greece suffers devastating, and often deadly, forest blazes every summer, and last year the country recorded the European Union's largest ever wildfires.

Persistent drought combined with high spring temperatures has raised fears of a particularly challenging period for firefighters in the coming months.

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