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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-08-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM heads emergency meeting
  • [02] Papandreou on wildfire situation
  • [03] Two football games cancelled due to wildfires (recasts)
  • [04] Major wildfire NE of greater Athens rages

  • [01] PM heads emergency meeting

    An emergency meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was held on Sunday morning at the Maximos Mansion government house to focus on the massive wildfire that erupted in northeast Attica prefecture, and which was threatening several northern Athens suburbs later in the day.

    Speaking afterwards, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the situation was grave due to the gusty winds blowing in the country and the terrain in the specific region. Additionally, he said securing life and property is the first order of business for fire-fighters and emergency response crews.

    It was following this specific meeting that Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis announced that Athens was requesting assistance from its European allies, within the framework of the FIRE 5 mechanism.

    [02] Papandreou on wildfire situation

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday afternoon referred to the major wildfire threatening Athens' northern mountainous suburbs after devastating northeast Attica prefecture.

    Papandreou, who spoke from the Palea Penteli township, where he arrived for a firsthand briefing on the situation, said the national catastrophe will concern all citizens, "but in the day after". He also stressed that immediate and practical steps to restrict and extinguish the fires are now paramount. He also expressed his solidarity to fire-fighters and the fire-stricken.

    [03] Two football games cancelled due to wildfires (recasts)

    Greece's Super League football league on Sunday afternoon officially cancelled two matches scheduled for later in the evening in the greater Athens area due to a raging wildfire northwest of the Greek capital.

    Specifically, the AEK-Olympiakos derby and the Panionios-PAOK game for the first division's 2009-2010 season opening weekend were cancelled, with another date to be announced.

    [04] Major wildfire NE of greater Athens rages

    A multi-front wildfire raged northeast of the greater Athens area on Sunday fuelled by gusty winds, as smoke filled the air over the Greek capital, while flames neared residential areas in Athens' more verdant northern suburbs. While dozens of residences, mostly country homes, were burned, no casualties were reported.

    On Saturday, with winds gusting up to 7 on the Beaufort scale the Greek fire brigade announced an unprecedented 83 small to large wildfires around the country, including an initially menacing blaze east of Karystos on southern-most Evia island, three separate wildfires on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, two wildfires on the island of Skyros, in central Viotia prefecture and a fire in the Dymis municipality outside the western port city of Patras. The fires on Zakynthos were extinguished by Sunday morning. A new press release on Sunday morning reported 65 forest fires of various sizes and intensity around the country since 6:30 a.m. (4:30GMT).

    Amid the declaration of a state of emergency in northern Attica prefecture, north of greater Athens, and a full mobilisation of Greece's hefty fire-fighting apparatus, the government requested aid from its European allies, with the first fire-fighting aircraft from abroad patrolling by Sunday afternoon.

    The multi-front blaze is active in a triangle with the community of Pikermi in the south, Grammitiko in the northeast and Aghios Stefanos in the northwest, a large swath of territory that includes forested land, residential communities, crops and olive groves and rugged hill sides. Particular emphasis was being placed on preventing wildfires from bypassing the Dionysos mountain slopes, areas ravaged by wildfires in the previous two decades, although in the early afternoon (12.30GMT) television footage showed flames threatening houses on the slopes of nearby Mount Penteli, and specifically in the Ano Vrilissia district.

    New fronts were reported near the Pallini township in eastern Attica prefecture and further south near the town of Markopoulo and the Kalyvia site, as newly erupted wildfires were being added to the ongoing blazes.

    The worst front appeared to be centred in the Aghios Stefanos municipality, north of Athens and Mount Dionysos, as the fire was moving westward towards the main Athens-Lamia highway. Conflicting reports referred to an evacuation of Aghios Stefanos, a residential and commercial centre some 40 kilometres north of central Athens.

    According to reports on Sunday, a total of 130 fire engines, 26 military vehicles, some 500 fire-fighters aided by 340 troops, 20 aircraft, along with 30 water tankers and more than 500 vehicles from adjoining municipalities are involved in efforts to battle the fires.

    The European Commission also announced the activation of the Union's civil defence mechanism on Saturday evening, with two Italian fire-fighting aircraft already patrolling over southern Greece, while another two French planes were reportedly en route to Greece as well. Cyprus also announced its willingness to dispatch a water-dropping helicopter.

    Problems were expected reported in power lines in affected regions, although the state energy company PPC said its high-voltage lines are unaffected and no problems are foreseen for the greater Athens area. Four medium-voltage lines were down, PPC stated, with 200 repairmen and linesmen sent to affected areas.

    On the government side, an emergency meeting was held at the Maximos Mansion government house, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, with all relevant ministers, civil defence and armed forces personnel to consider all additional measure to combat the wildfires, especially the one in northeast Attica prefecture.

    Karamanlis later flew over the fire-stricken region in a helicopter, while on Saturday he met with the fire brigade's leadership at the service's command centre in Athens. Additionally, it was announced that President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was returning from his holidays in northwest Greece. Main opposition PASOK president George Papandreou was also reportedly headed to a site on Mount Penteli, which overlooks Athens from the north, to survey fire-fighting efforts.

    Caption: ANA-MPA photo / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU.


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