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At least 79 dead and 187 injured by several fires in Greece

The country has declared a state of emergency and has called for European aid to mitigate the fires that have left more than 70 dead

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At least 79 dead and 187 injured by several fires in Greece

The worst natural tragedy in Greece's recent history has left at least 79 dead since Monday and more than 180 wounded after passage of a tongue of fire across north and northwest of Attica, region surrounding Greek capital. All victims, including teenagers, children and even a six-month-old baby, have been found in area between port of Rafia, about 30 kilometres from Ans, and Nea Makri, about ten kilometres north, with zero zone located in Mati , a typical seaside resort very frequented by locals.

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The Helenas authorities, who have declared state of emergency and asked for help from ir European partners, suggest that fires could have been provoked. They have also requested a special drone to United States (USA) to trace any traces of "suspicious activity" — as government spokesman called it Tuesday — as existence, on Monday afternoon, of 15 simultaneous fire-spots on three fronts was confirmed. Different in Attica. In addition, emergency services seek an indeterminate number of missing persons, as reported by Greek media such as Daily Kathimerini. The authorities have asked neighbors to report wher y are unaware of whereabouts of relatives and friends who reside in affected areas. The suspicion that after fires may be real estate speculation or even undisguised attempt to build wind farms are plausible assumptions for many Greeks.

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Until Monday, worst fire in Greece's recent history was one declared in summer of 2007 in Peloponnese and island of Evia, which claimed between 70 and 77 lives, according to sources. But on Monday, around six in afternoon ( five in peninsular Spain), a tongue of fire originating in Penteli, a very wooded area, spread to seaside town of Nea Makri, about thirty kilometers from Ans — and a place of habitual residence for Many Anians — destroying everything in ir path: supermarkets, houses, campsites. The fact that it had a well-defined front, only two kilometres wide, in an area of easy access and, in case of Mati — where 26 people were found dead hugged in a tavern's yard — just 300 meters from sea , according to experts, were factors that favoured an effective response from firefighters. But force of wind (gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour on Monday) and abrupt and constant variation of direction complicated to impossible extinction of fire — suffocated already this Tuesday, but well palpable still Emberss — and rescue of lives.

In 2007 in Peloponnese, it claimed between 70 and 77 lives and devastated 250,000 hectares of forests and crops. But, unlike Mati, zero kilometer of tragedy, lasted a week, with an uncoverable forehead of 60 kilometres wide that engulfeded 147 villages and killed about 30,000 animals. If both contexts are compared, this Monday's fire far exceeds all records in havoc.

It seems that it was resistance of many neighbors to leave ir homes — most, second homes in middle of forest — main cause of tragedy. Most of fatalities were found inside houses and some inside vehicles in which y sought to escape fire, said Tuesday government spokesman, Dimitris Tznakópulos. So most repeated message in early hours through media was precisely that, running away without losing a second. But, in addition to inhabitants ' fondness for ir goods, or causes, such as abundance of constructions, many of m illegal, and sum of cuts since 2010, which have left Greek public services in chassis, are shuffled as factors that explain, With coarse stroke, magnitude of this tragedy.

View of Parnon with smoke of fires on outskirts of Ans. Reuters.

In February 2017, for example, 4,000 firefighters saw ir temporary contracts expire, signed in 2012. A government-driven parliamentary vote rescued only half of m (2,160). Nine patrol of Coast Guard, two military detachments and dozens of private vessels, assisted by army helicopters, were involved in extinction of this last fire in support of 700 firefighters deployed in The interior with aid of 80 vehicles. As ground zero of fire was found just 300 meters from sea, many victims sought refuge on shore. The Coast Guard rescued some 900 people from coast, and about twenty inside water. A few meters from sea, a Red Cross rescue group found most horrifying scene of this tragedy: a group of 26 people hugged, carbonized in courtyard of a tavern.

Also speculative zeal has proved to be a key factor in fires recorded in recent years, such as those that in August 2009 affected forest areas north and northwest of Ans, less serious and without personal injury. The overpopulated Greek capital as epicenter around which gravitate, one year after anor, too many fires: events provoked to achieve requalification of land, added to craving for real estate developers.

When embers have not yet been turned off, usual gresca policy between government and opposition grew in intensity. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who on Monday interrupted a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he was to be awarded for his contribution to peace in Balkans, already warned on Monday night — when confusion about victims was only Increase country's dismay--that it was not time to ask for political responsibility, but to tackle emergency.

Poor management of some fires has precipitated fall of Governments, as in August 2009 that of conservative Kostas Karamanlís. The inaction of administration and weak response of authorities were lace that precipitated his fall, forcing to advance elections (which would win Social Democrat Yorgos Papandreou, in October). Then it hovered as a black cloud crisis, and three bailouts with ir draconian adjustments, which did nothing but rain on wet. or over-burned.

Faith of Errors

In a previous version, it was reported by mistake that winds in areas affected by fires reached 100 kilometres per hour, an intensity that was reached yesterday Monday.

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