Severe forest fires on the Italian island of Sicily have temporarily closed the main local airport.

As a result, hundreds of tourists are stranded on the island.

The airport of the eastern coastal city of Catania is the largest airport in Sicily and an important arrival point for tourists.

Because of the forest fires, planes cannot take off or land.

The fire brigade had to turn out more than 50 times in Catania on Friday and another 100 times elsewhere in Sicily, including around the northern coastal city of Palermo.

Many tourists who stayed in holiday homes have been

evacuated

, according to the Italian news agency

Ansa

.

Some beaches are closed.

The local population in some villages also had to leave their homes.

According to the regional government, some fires have been set.

The authorities expect the highest fire risk level for eastern and northern Sicily on Saturday, with temperatures around 40 degrees.

The heat, drought and strong winds are causing the fires to spread.

Other parts of Italy are also dealing with major forest fires, such as in the Lazio region with the capital Rome, in Apulia and in Campania.

The island of Sardinia had already been hit hard before.

Forests and houses burned down there.

Rescue workers had to get people to safety.