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Heat forces Greek authorities to shut down Acropolis during afternoon hours for a second day

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Authorities in Greece closed down the Acropolis in Athens during the afternoon on Thursday for a second day as the country swelters under unseasonably high temperatures.

The Culture Ministry said the hilltop citadel, which is Greece's most popular ancient site, was closed from midday to 5 p.m. local time because of the heat.

All other archaeological sites in the Greek capital were also shut during the same hours. People who had booked visits for that period could use their tickets later in the day until the sites close at 8 p.m., the ministry said.

Temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday in much of central and southern Greece, including greater Athens, the Cyclades and Crete.

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Officials are on heightened alert for wildfires, which plague Greece every summer.

The minister responsible for civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said Thursday posed a particular wildfire risk due to the combination of high temperatures and winds.

“The early start of the heat waves, combined with the dry winter, has led to a very difficult fire season,” he said.

The fire service also warned of a very high wildfire threat on Friday.

Authorities in Athens are providing air-conditioned areas to the public and have issued fans to secondary schools where end-of-year and university entrance exams are being held.

Temperatures are expected to drop on Friday and Saturday.

The Associated Press