NEWS

Blaze tamed in Halkidiki but Mani fire burns on

After five days of burning, the blaze in Cassandra along the Halkidiki coast was finally tamed yesterday as firefighters continued to battle with a fire in Mani in the southern Peloponnese. Authorities said that firefighters patrolling on foot in Cassandra were combing the area to help prevent chances of a rekindling. Water-dropping planes and helicopters are also on alert and may be used as a preventative measure, according to officials. The Cassandra fire is estimated to have burned some 5,000 hectares of pine forest since it broke out Monday night and destroyed about 80 percent of farm produce in the region. Inspectors from the Hellenic Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) have started recording the damages. In a visit to the area yesterday, PASOK leader George Papandreou accused the conservative government of «criminal negligence» and irresponsibly handling one of the worst forest fires so far this summer. The Socialists has put together teams who can work with local officials to prepare a post-fire plan, Papandreou said. The government has defended its handling of the matter but has also left open the possibility of investigating whether state services should take some of the blame for the massive blaze. Meanwhile, fire services were still struggling to control the fire in Mani. Authorities said a large number of firemen were on hand to help extinguish the blaze, which has scorched more than 10,000 hectares since Tuesday.