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Martian skies over Athens? Greece's capital turns an orange hue with dust clouds from North Africa

A Tourists seats on a bench at the Lycabettus hill as the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill is seen at the background, on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Petros Giannakouris / AP Photo) A Tourists seats on a bench at the Lycabettus hill as the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill is seen at the background, on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Petros Giannakouris / AP Photo)
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ATHENS, Greece -

Skies over southern Greece turned an orange hue on Tuesday as dust clouds blown across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa engulfed the Acropolis and other Athens landmarks.

Strong southerly winds carried the dust from the Sahara Desert, giving the atmosphere of the Greek capital a Martian-like filter 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 (86 Fahrenheit), more than 20 degrees C higher than what was registered in much of northern Greece.

Tourists walk at the Lycabettus hill as the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill is seen at the background, on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Petros Giannakouris / AP Photo)

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

The fire service said 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.

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 wildfire in more than two decades. 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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