State of emergency declared in Lesvos after migrant camp fire

State of emergency declared in Lesvos after migrant camp fire

The Greek government placed the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos in a state of emergency on Wednesday, allowing it to mobilize all forces to support the island and asylum seekers, a government official said.

The state of emergency will remain in place for the next four months.

The decision came after an emergency ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to decide how to tackle the aftermath of the blaze.

Interior MInister Takis Theodorikakos, Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi and the president of the National Organisation for Public Health (EODY) Panagiotis Arkoumaneas willhead to Lesvos on Wednesday where they will be briefed on the situation in Moria, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas announced after the meeting at the Maximos Mansion.

Petsas also said that the three top officials will give a press conference at 6 p.m. Alternate Migration Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos will brief the international press at 1 p.m.

He did not provide any further details on the fire.

The blaze broke out at Greece’s largest migrant facility just after midnight Tuesday, fire officials said. By early morning, most of Moria was a smouldering mass of burnt containers and tents, while thousands of migrants and refugees had fled with their possessions to escape the flames and smoke.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear. Authorities were investigating whether there was arson.

Moria had been in lockdown since September 2, after one resident tested positive for coronavirus. Another 35 people have since been infected.

Additional police forces have been sent to the island to prevent fleeing migrants from reaching the town of mytilene.

Riot police have formed two blockages: one about 400 meters away from the camp where about 4,000 migrants remain after exiting Moria, and a second in the area surrounding the Kara Tepe camp.

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