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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Fires continue to cause devastation
  • [02] Environment minister visits fire-ravaged Mt. Parnitha

  • [01] Fires continue to cause devastation

    Wildfires continued to burn across the country on Friday, causing devastation.

    A major fire that broke out on Thursday evening in Kalentzi, Corinth prefecture, Peloponnese southern Greece, is in progress destroying pinewood.

    A wildfire continued to burn in Metaxada, Messinia Peloponnese in spite of the strong firefighting force operating in the region, the fire on the island of Hydra raged on for a third day, while the blaze on Mt. Aderes has been partially contained.

    The rest of the fires in the region of the Peloponnese were reported under control.

    Meanwhile, firefighting efforts continued overnight in Assiros, Thessaloniki with the participation of 30 fire engines, 70 firemen and 17 firefighters on foot.

    The wildfire that crossed the Greek borders from FYROM continued to burn in the prefecture of Kilkis, northern Greece. A total of 8 fire engines operated by 20 firemen, were participating in the efforts to put the blaze under control.

    The fire in Fteri, Pieria prefecture, continued to rage after burning its way to the region from Velventos, Kozani prefecture. Sixteen fire engines, 40 firemen and 21 firemen on foot battled the flames overnight.

    The wildfires in the municipalities of Nestorio and Akrites and in the communities of Arenes, Grammos and Kastrakio in Kastoria prefecture were also still in progress, and the regions engulfed by the flames have been declared in a state of emergency. Meanwhile, another fire broke out at dawn in a refuse dumpsite in the prefecture of Kastoria.

    In the prefecture of Florina, efforts continued to put out the fires raging in the regions of Smardesi, Kristalopigi and Varba-Sfika, Prespes. No populated areas were threatened by the blaze. The entire Fire Brigade force stationed in the prefecture was taking part in the firefighting effort.

    The forest fire in Lagadi, Nigrita in the prefecture of Serres, has been extinguished but firefighting forces remained in the region for precautionary reasons.

    [02] Environment minister visits fire-ravaged Mt. Parnitha

    Environment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias on Friday called for self-restraint by all sides over the issue of the wildfires, during an inspection of the restoration works on the burnt slopes of Mt. Parnitha, which was ravaged by recent forest fires.

    "There is no room for populism and petty political exploitation in the fires issue," he stressed, adding that "self-restraint and rallying" were necessary. "There is time for criticism. Right now, we must all rally together to tackle this unprecedented event," the minister said, adding that this was demanded by realism and the present circumstances

    He cited the recent floods in England, adding that "but there, the necessary calm exists". He conceded that there were some arrhythmias, but added that this year's fire sitution was "unprecedented".

    Souflias inspected the restoration works that began six days earlier on the burnt slopes of Parnitha, and expressed pain at what he saw.

    "Our country is going through difficult moments. We mourned victims. That which we have witnessed this year is unprecedented, but fires are also plaguing the other Balkan countries as well as Italy," he noted, adding that "we see Italy, which is a larger country than Greece, how much difficulty it is having in confronting the situation".

    Asked whether there had been a delay in Greece's request for firefighting assistance from Russia, Souflias said that "no matter what one does in Greece, he is always the accused".

    "I consider it very positive that we asked for help from the Russians. It was a very positive action on the part of the prime minister to telephone (Russian president Vladimir) Mr. Putin. No one expected that we would have fires of such a large extent," he said.

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis called Russian President Putin on the telephone on Thursday morning and requested Russia's assistance, asking him to send additional firefighting aircraft to reinforce Greek fire-fighting means, and Putin returned the call just a few minutes later to inform the Greek prime minister that the Russian government will send operationally available firefighting aircraft on Friday.

    Souflias also said that Greece had requested assistance from other countries, but they were unable to respond to the request due to the fires in those countries as well.

    The minister said that 260 specialised personnel from throughout the country, divided into 10 crews, were currently working on the Parnitha slopes, on anti-flooding and anti-erosion projects, while another 100-150 specialists were expected over the next few days, adding that the crews had already shored up several of the slopes. He said the bulk of the work involved setting up log barriers at points where torrents formed in order to hold back water and soil.

    He explained that the works were proceeding rapidly, adding that similar works would be carried out in other burnt areas.

    "Good work is being done. A great effort is being made, and we are moving along at a very good pace," he said, noting that the route of the waters that will descend from Parnitha passed through heavily populated areas, and this necessitated speedy progress in the works being carried out on the mountain and at the torrent spots.

    Souflias also said that 6th and 7th category contractors were due to brief him next week on the anti-flooding and anti-erosion works they could undertake, while he himself was examining the prospect of construction of a dam at the site where the Yannoulis torrent forms, which passes through the Fylis area near Kleiston Monastery.

    In addition 120 million euro have been made available for the construction of a five-by-five piping system at the Eschatia torrent which runs through Menidi, Ano Liosia and Kamatero, while a Presidential Decree has already been published in the Government Gazette tripling the boundaries of the national park, he said.

    Souflias further announced that reforestation would begin with the first autumn rains.

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