A major wildfire on the Greek island of Evia has forced the evacuation of at least two villages and a monastery as smoke from the wind-fanned blaze blanketed the capital, Athens, further south.

Authorities on Tuesday evacuated some 500 residents from the villages of Kontodespoti and Makrimalli as the flames neared homes, officials said.

The monastery of Panagia Makrymallis was evacuated first as a precaution.

“There are flames all around and it’s difficult to breathe … house yards are on fire,” Yiorgos Psathas, Dirfys-Messapia mayor, told state broadcaster ERT.

“We will order more evacuations if the need arises,” he added.

More than 200 firefighters were battling the blaze backed by 75 fire trucks, five water-bombing helicopters and six planes. The crews face rugged terrain, hills and poor visibility

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