This area almost equals (93.8 per cent) the amount of woodland that went up in smoke across all of 2016.

Half of the burned surface area, or 13,000 hectares, is in the southern island of Sicily, which has experienced extreme heat this summer.

Fires have been raging all over the island, while around 600 holidaymakers were forced to take to boats on Wednesday to escape an encroaching blaze near Trapani.

Meanwhile on the mainland, army forces have been called in to help contain fires on Mount Vesuvius, and two people were confirmed dead in bushfires in Calabria on Thursday.