Fires continue to rage out of control across Greece

Massive forest fires continued to rage out of control across Greece on Friday, burning through forests and entire towns in dozens of areas across the country.

Fires continue to rage out of control across Greece

Massive forest fires continued to rage out of control across Greece on Friday, burning through forests and entire towns in dozens of areas across the country.

Hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and volunteers were still tackling more than 100 fires, 15 of which were still burning out of control in various areas of the country including the holiday islands of Hydra and the northern Greek prefectures of Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Kastoria, Florina and Serres.

In the region of Kastoria, officials declared a state of emergency as firefighting efforts were hindered by the presence underground of unexploded landmines left from World War II.

A 40-kilometre wildfire that has been burning out of the control for the past three days along the northern coastline of the Peloponnese has spread to the neighbouring prefecture of Akrata.

Dozens of villages have been evacuated in the southern Peloponnese areas of Diakoptou, Akratas and Aegio, where four elderly people died.

Several fires continued to burn on the Ionian island of Kefallonia, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of tourists.

Since the beginning of June hundreds of fires have destroyed over 25,000 acres of forest and taken the lives of five firefighters.

Officials declared a state of emergency in five prefectures across Greece, saying fires had engulfed more than 40 towns, quickly sweeping through pine and cypress forests and olive groves.

With fire departments understaffed and overworked, the government called in army conscripts to help battle the fires and pleaded for help from the European Union and foreign governments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said firefighting planes would arrive in Greece on Friday to help battle the blazes while France last week offered two fire-fighting aircraft and Germany a helicopter.

Greece lost one of its planes and two pilots on Monday in a crash that occurred while it was putting out a blaze on the Greek island of Evia. Authorities said the accident was probably due to pilot fatigue.

Dry weather conditions and record-high temperatures have caused more than 2,000 forest fires since the beginning of June. Forest rangers have been placed on 24-hour fire patrols for the rest of the summer.

Six consecutive days of scorching temperatures that reached 45 degrees Celsius contributed to the deaths of two people on Wednesday and sent hundreds of others to hospital.

Temperatures dropped to about 38 degrees Celsius on Friday.

DPA

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Temmuz 2007, 01:28
YORUM EKLE