Italy asks European countries for firefighting planes to tame Sardinia fires

Blazes have burnt thousands of hectares of land, killing animals and damaging property

Italy has asked European countries to send firefighting aircraft to help tame fires on the island of Sardinia that have prompted hundreds of people to flee their homes.

Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Facebook that the country's civil protection authority issued the request for help.

"Two [aircraft] are on their way from France, which I officially thank," Mr Di Maio said.

Fires have raged across the island's western province of Oristano, burning thousands of hectares of land, killing animals and damaging property.

There have been no reports of people dying or suffering from serious injuries, but Italian news agency Ansa reported that 400 people left their homes and were taken to safety on Sunday. A similar number left overnight.

The civil protection authority said seven Canadair aircraft, amphibious planes used to pick up water to drop on fires, were operating in the Oristano area.

"The fires today have mainly affected the south," the authority said.

Hot south-westerly winds have complicated efforts to tackle the flames.

Christian Solinas, President of the Sardinia Region, said the fires were "a disaster without precedent".

He said it was not possible to determine the full extent of the damage, but he planned to ask Prime Minister Mario Draghi to allocate recovery funds for reforestation projects.

Updated: July 25th 2021, 9:07 PM