Hundreds flee as wildfires wreak havoc

In one of the worst days for forest fires this summer, one person was killed and hundreds evacuated as firefighters battled 197 fronts, with blazes in the northern Peloponnese and on Cephalonia in particular causing widespread destruction. Authorities said last night that a 75-year-old man had been burned to death in a village in the municipality of Aigion in the northern Peloponnese as more than 100 firefighters struggled to control a wildfire that started on Monday. The dead man was named as livestock farmer Spyros Lambropoulos from the village of Mamousia. The fire swept through a number of villages in the area, destroying houses and causing hundreds of residents to flee. Some were airlifted to safety by army helicopters. Precise figures were not immediately available. A fire on the Ionian island of Cephalonia also caused havoc and was still out of control last night. The blaze broke out in the southeast part of the island late on Tuesday night and was fanned by a strong wind. Authorities said that homes had been destroyed in the villages of Pastra and Aghios Giorgos. Further details were not available last night. Firefighters were also battling three blazes on Greece’s border with Albania, near Kastoria. One of the fires was burning through a forest on Mount Grammos, forcing some 200 people to flee the village of Kypseli. A wildfire also crossed Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and reached a forested area near the village of Hamilo, close to Kilkis. Meanwhile, PASOK leader George Papandreou stepped up his criticism of the government’s handling of the wildfires. «The government is incapable of dealing with this national ecological crisis,» said Papandreou after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias. The government has rejected a proposal by Papandreou’s for party leaders to meet to discuss how to deal with the fires.

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