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Hardalias: About 20 fire-fighting aircraft are flying at any given moment

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Only about 20 of a total of 74 water-throwing aircraft at Greece’s disposal are flying at any given moment during the latest fire-fighting operations, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said on Tuesday. 

“We have 74 aerial means. There is a perception that they fly at the same time. The reality is the following: Of these 74, 67 are firefighting [aircraft], the rest are for coordination [and] personnel transport…Of these 67, six to seven are regularly in maintenance…Of the remaining 60, 20 remain in regional bases,” he told journalists at a press briefing on the destructive wildfires ravaging the country.

Of the remaining 40, almost half are flying at any given time, while the rest are refuelled to fly later, he explained.

Hardalias was responding to a question about the actual number of available water bombers amid criticism by local officials and residents on the limited number of aerial help in Evia’s massive blaze. 

Last week, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Akis Skertsos, said that Greece has 74 aircraft (42 airplanes and 32 helicopters) available to fight the numerous fires, arguing that the current administration has raised spending on fire-fighting.