(Pefki) In the heat and thick suffocating fumes, firefighters delivered on Monday at 7NS A day of consecutive fierce battle against the fire of Evia Island, 200 km east of Athens, the most destructive of the fires still affecting Greece and Turkey.
While most of the fires that broke out nearly two weeks ago or quietly on Monday have settled in Greece and Turkey, northern Evia, Greece’s second largest island, remains an apocalyptic panorama.
The AFP team found that the coastal village of Pefki in the north woke up to a thick cloud of stinging smoke.
About 300 evacuees from nearby villages spent the night on a ferry moored on the long beach. At sea, a military boat is waiting like a ghost ship on an imperceptible horizon.
“It was the only place where people could find some peace and security,” military official Panagiotis Charalambos told AFP.
The port’s deputy captain said Pefki, like many nearby localities, “no longer had electricity or water.”
In recent days, in northern Euboea, “the Coast Guard carried out dozens of rescue operations. 2,600 people have been evacuated since the fire started,” he said, his eyes darkening the stifling atmosphere.
On the fire front, the villages of Kamatriadis and Galatsath were a priority for firefighters on Monday. “If the fire passes there, it will be in a dense forest and difficult to put out,” the Greek news agency ANA quoted the firefighters as saying.
Of the about 650 firefighters working on the island on Monday, about 250 came from Ukraine, Serbia and Romania, backed by 11 water launchers and a helicopter, the Civil Protection said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he had asked Moscow to send a second BE-200 giant sea-water bomber. Greece’s foreign ministry said Turkey, a regional rival to Greece, had pledged to send two more planes.
In Brussels, the European Commission announced that in recent days it has increased sending planes, helicopters and firefighters to Greece, as well as to Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey.
Several countries (France, Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia) indicated over the weekend that they were ready to send additional teams of firefighters to Greece.
“There is nothing left”
One by one, dozens of villages surrounded by fire were emptied of their residents, much to the chagrin of the local population, whose property and lands were reduced to ashes.
Here, people lived on forests, crops, olives, and tourism. There was nothing left of it all,” said Louisa, the retiree she met in Pefki.
Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras announced that a maximum of 6,000 euros per family will be allocated to residents whose homes were damaged, in addition to 4,500 euros for the injured.
In the town of Aidipsos, groups of basic necessities were organized for the villagers who had lost everything in the fire.
“Did you see the state offering us water?” Snacks for the kids? Nobody. They allowed merchants and residents to give water to people, Giorgos said angrily in an interview with AFP in Pefki.
The controversy has intensified in recent days due to the lack of resources allocated by Greece to fighting the fires, particularly in Euboea.
Euboea Deputy Governor Giorgos Kelaïtzidis, as well as several mayors and residents, denounced the “insufficient” forces.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias responded on Sunday that air assets were facing “serious difficulties” due to disruptions and limited visibility.
Greece and Turkey have been witnessing a wave of violent fires for nearly two weeks, favored by drought and scorching temperatures, which have left 10 dead and dozens injured in hospitals.
In Turkey’s Mugla region, two logging workers were injured by a fall from a burning tree in Mentiz and taken to hospital, state TV TRT reported on Monday.
At the gates of Athens, the blaze that destroyed dozens of homes and businesses has been quiet since Sunday, but “the risk of its resurgence is great,” Mr Hardlias warned.
On Monday morning, many ground forces continued to battle the fires at the foot of Barnes Mountain.
A fire in Crete has been brought under control, while the situation has stabilized in the Peloponnese where about 300 firefighters remain on call.
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