Greece battles fires for fourth day, awaiting help from Russia
The largest front was in the southern region of Achaia in the Peloponnese, where over 230 firemen backed by troops and two helicopters fought a blaze that since Tuesday has destroyed around 100 homes and properties in local villages, killing three elderly villagers who did not flee the area in time.
"Around 15,000 hectares are estimated to have been burned," Western Greece regional supervisor Spyros Spyridonos told NET state television.
"The situation has improved somewhat, but there are still many fronts in progress," a fire department press officer told AFP.
Help was expected to arrive from Russia after President Vladimir Putin pledged to send water-bomber aircraft following a request by Greek PM Costas Karamanlis.
Fires were raging on Friday across the Greek mainland, from the northern regions of Ioannina, Kastoria, Florina, Pieria, Kozani and Salonika to the southern regions of Messinia and Corinth and the central region of Viotia.
Fire-fighters had trouble reaching two of the blazes in Ioannina and Kastoria because of landmines dating from the Second World War.
Greece's fire brigade has been fighting hundreds of blazes in the past month, fanned by high winds and an earlier heatwave that authorities described as the longest Greece has experienced in over 100 years.
One of the larger fires destroyed 5.600 hectares of forest on Mount Parnitha overlooking Athens, including over a third of a national park that was supposedly among Greece's best protected.
Five fire-fighters have died this past month. Two water-bomber pilots were killed when their aircraft crashed battling a blaze on the island of Evia and three part-time firemen died trapped by a wildfire on the island of Crete.
Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 07/27/2007 03:57:38
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