Greece starts to count cost after a week of devastating fires

Greece starts to count cost after a week of devastating fires

Greek authorities have begun assessing the damage from wildfires that have devastated huge swathes of forest and forced thousands to flee from their homes over the past week, as fires burned unabated in many parts of the country on Monday.

The biggest front was on the island of Evia east of the capital, which has so far forced the evacuation of dozens of villages and thousands of people, while flames engulfed forests and homes in the island’s north.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to chair a ministerial meeting on Monday on relief measures for those who lost property in the fires.

“Our aim is to complete the inventory as soon as possible, in order to immediately begin the process of compensating our affected fellow citizens,” the ministry of infrastructure and transport said in a statement.

On Evia, Greece’s second largest island which lies just off the mainland, water-bombing aircraft struggled to operate because of the large plumes of smoke blanketing the area, authorities said.

The fires broke out during Greece’s worst heatwave in three decades last week, with searing temperatures and dry heat causing tinder box conditions. Temperatures had cooled somewhat but were forecast to rise again during the week, meaning the risk of flare-ups remained high.

In Athens, officials began to assess the damage from a blaze which tore through several suburbs north of the city last week before beginning to recede on Saturday.

The blaze, which broke out on the foothills of Mount Parthina on the outskirts of the capital, sent thousands of people fleeing and damaged homes and businesses as well as thousands of hectares of forest land.

Greece has received assistance from a number of European countries to help battle the flames and more than 600 firefighters tried to contain the fire on Evia on Monday.

More than 2,000 residents and tourists have been evacuated by ferry since last Tuesday. [Reuters]

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