Greece tackles last major blaze

Water-bombing aircraft engaged in dousing fire in nation’s south as toll reaches 64.

A smaller fire continued in the centre of Evia although no villages there were under threat [AFP]
A smaller fire continued in the centre of Evia although no villages there were under threat [AFP]
A smaller fire continued in the centre of Evia, the island to the north of Athens, although no villages there were under threat.
More than 3,400 soldiers joined hundreds of firefighters and international crews and aircraft in battling the remaining blazes.

In flames

Most of the victims were killed in the first two days of the disaster when they became trapped in flame-engulfed villages or were overcome when they tried to beat back the flames.

In the Peloponnese alone, more than 150,000 hectares of land and forest were burned and 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

The government said more than 7,000 people had been paid a total of 24 million euros ($32.7m) compensation by Wednesday.

Businesses and individuals have donated 38 million euros ($51.7m) to an emergency fund run by Petros Molyviatis, the former Greek foreign minister, the spokesman said.

Separately, Greek banks pledged tens of millions of euros in reconstruction aid.

Saved sites

In Olympia, where firefighters managed to save the site of the ancient Olympics from destruction at the weekend, hundreds of people were each paid 3,000 euros.

Those whose homes were destroyed received a further 10,000 euros.

Demonstrators in Athens protested against the
government’s handling of forest fires [AFP]

Retired farmer George Marinopoulos, 68, whose fields of olive trees were reduced to ashes, said he had experienced several fires in his life.

“In the past, it would take up to two years to get the money,”  he said.

“This is the first time I have been able to go into a bank and take the money.”

The government has suggested the fires were started deliberately as part of an organised campaign.

More than 30 people have been arrested, although arsonists in Greece rarely serve jail sentences.

Black-clad protest

Growing anger at the political response led to an estimated crowd of 10,000 black-clad demonstrators holding a silent protest in front of the parliament building in Athens on Wednesday.

The fires also threatened to damage the chances of Costas Karamanlis, the prime minster, winning a second term in office in elections on September 16.

New polls suggested the opposition Socialists were closing the gap on Karamanlis’ conservative New Democracy party.

The gap was between 0.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent, according to four polls published on Thursday.

Source: News Agencies


Greece assesses the devastation from six days of intense blazes.

29 Aug 2007
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