Eubo Island ravaged by flames, "ecological disaster" for authorities


A huge fire has ravaged the island of Euboea in Greece for more than 30 hours. – ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP

The island of Euboea, one of the best preserved huts of wild fauna and flora
in Greece, was ravaged by
a fire, which began on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. The authorities already deplore "an enormous ecological disaster".

The disaster, which evolves on a front of 12 km, did not make a victim but caused the evacuation of four villages on the island of Eubée, the second Greek island by its size after Crete, located at a 100 km north-east of Athens.

"From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli, everything is burned"

"It's a huge ecological disaster in a unique pine forest", which has remained "intact" to this day, said outgoing regional governor Costas Bakoyannis. The roadside fire, which broke out on Tuesday at 3 AM (00H00 GMT), quickly spread, due to the gusts of wind, to the dense and dry vegetation of the center of the island, a pine forest classified for its wildlife and wild flora.

The disaster caused the evacuation of the villages of Kontodespoti, Macrymalli, Stavros and Platana, in the center of the island, and threatened the city of Psachna during the night, the authorities said. "From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli, everything is burned. We are fortunate not to have human casualties, "said ANA's ANS spokesperson Thanassis Karakatzas, a civil protection official.

Canicular temperatures, high winds and drought

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias also welcomed the fact that there were no injuries or respiratory problems that required hospitalization. As a precaution, three ambulances remained stationed in the area, he tweeted. Some 200 firefighters were on site, helped by 75 land vehicles, nine helicopters and seven water bombers, according to the Greek fire service.

An Italian water bomber was to lend a hand in the day, before the reinforcement expected in the evening of two planes from Spain and another from Italy. At the request of Greece, the EU mobilized its resources from the Rescue mechanism, operational in anticipation of forest fires in Europe.
Greece, where the thermometer rose to 40 degrees, has been hit in recent days by a series of fires. The alert level of emergency services was placed at a very high level Friday by the head of civil protection because of the combination of scorching temperatures, high winds and drought.


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