Saturday, August 29, 2009

Greece declares state of emergency as forest fires reach Athens

Helena Smith in the Guardian (UK): Thousands of Greeks were battling to save their homes from forest fires raging out of control on the outskirts of Athens as authorities declared a state of emergency and mobilised the army today in the capital.

Gale-force winds hampered firefighting efforts for a second day as the flames encroached on the city's outer suburbs. Officials appealed to residents to evacuate but some Athenians remained in their homes to try to battle the inferno with hoses and buckets. The Greek government has appealed for help from Italy, France and Cyprus. State-run institutions, including the children's hospital in Pendeli, were abandoned as the flames spread.

"What we are facing is a huge ordeal," said prime minister Kostas Karamanlis. "A massive effort by authorities is taking place to deal with this very difficult challenge."...

Smoke above Syntagma Square, right in the middle of Athens, shot by Yucatan (Юкатан), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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