Forest fires burn on in Greece; death toll nears 50

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Forest fires burn in Greece.
Image: Lotus R..

In southern Greece today, huge forest fires continue to burn on destroying homes and causing severe damage to the region. Local fire departments put the current death toll at at least 37, nine of which were children.

Since Friday morning, around 170 fires have been burning, many of which are believed to be caused by arson. Authorities are calling the fires "criminal acts." Fire department spokesman Nikos Diamandis said most of the fires were started in entirely different areas, and were started after dark. Some fires reportedly broke out in "lush greenery."

Fire in Keratea, as it is seen from Markopoulo Mesogaias

27 deaths have been confirmed in Peloponnese, one of the hardest hit areas. Today, however, fires broke out near Athens.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was to for an emergency meeting of the senior ministers in the country's capital, Athens. Karamanlis said, "This is a day of national mourning...I wish to express my deep grief over the lost lives...We are fighting against heavy odds, on many fronts and under particularly tough conditions."

Greece's government yesterday asked its European Union allies for help. About 30 countries are offering support, according to an EU statement.

New fires were reportedly still breaking out this morning.

Some helicopters and airplanes, which were to drop water on the fires, continued to be delayed by strong winds.


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