Fire on the Greek island of Euboea: the authorities deplore an "ecological disaster"

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Since Tuesday, flames that can reach 20 to 30 meters high are devouring the natural reserve of the island.

Four villages have been evacuated and the flames are devouring an area of ​​12 kilometers: since Tuesday, the Greek firefighters are fighting against a violent fire on the island of Euboea, the second by size after Crete, located a hundred kilometers north-east of Athens.

"It is a huge ecological disaster in a unique pine forest", which has remained "intact" to this day, lamented the outgoing regional governor Costas Bakoyannis. "Forest fires will unfortunately be part of our daily lives as climate change also affects southern Europe," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Psachna, a city threatened by the flames the day before.

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The wind, which broke out on the road at 3am on Tuesday, quickly spread to the dense and dry vegetation of the center of the island, where a reserve of wild fauna and flora. The incident caused the evacuation of the villages of Kontodespoti, Macrymalli, Stavros and Platana, in the center of the island, and the town of Psachna, said the authorities.

"Everything is burned"

"From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli, everything is burned, we are lucky not to have had any casualties," said Thanassis Karakatzas, a civil protection officer. Thanassis Karakatzas assured Wednesday, on the public television channel ERT, that "the fire zone was now circumscribed" thanks in particular to "winds of rather low intensity".

"By the end of the afternoon, the inhabitants will be able to join their village, agents of the electricity company are already at work on the spot to put back the current in the dwellings", he also specified . On a terrain of dense vegetation, rugged terrain and difficult access, the soldiers of the fire fought all night with flames 20 to 30 meters high.

The flames have already reduced part of the Agrilistsa forest to smoke, causing invaluable damage in this 550-hectare nature reserve. "Now will start the hard count of the damage," said the Prime Minister who asked to operate a mechanism of compensation "fast" for farmers and ranchers whose lands were ravaged.

Desolation

Garrigue in fire, pine transformed into giant torches and charred bushes, the sinister offered Wednesday a spectacle of desolation. On site, some 200 firefighters, helped by 75 land vehicles, nine helicopters and seven water bombers, managed to save the populated areas.

READ ALSO >> Greece: One year after the deadly fire of Mati, the tragedy continues to haunt its inhabitants

In Athens, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Action Christos Stylianides hailed an "exemplary" mobilization of Greek forces. "I think we can limit the ecological losses," he said, before referring to "tangible European solidarity".

Two Italian water bombers and a third from Spain were to lend a hand to the Greek fire brigade. At the request of Athens, the EU mobilized its resources from the Rescue mechanism. Greece has been affected in recent days by a series of fires under the combined effect of scorching temperatures, high winds and drought.

Fires were controlled Tuesday on the island of Thassos in the north, in the region of Boeotia, in the center west, Peloponnese in the south. Another disaster that threatened the suburbs of Athens could be extinguished Monday, while the tourist island of Elafonissos was for two days the prey of the flames.

On Saturday, two fires were fired around Marathon, north of Athens, a short distance from the resort of Mati, where 102 people perished a year ago, in the deadliest fire ever known Greece.

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