NEWS

Fires continue to rage across the country

Dozens of fires continued to rage across Greece yesterday but were gradually being controlled as government officials begin the task of assessing damage and promising aid to victims. A huge blaze in the area of Aigialeia, in the northeastern part of the prefecture of Achaia, continued to burn after killing three local residents and destroying as many as 100 houses. A 28-year-old man has been arrested in the area for suspected arson. Fires were also raging in the northern regions of Ioannina, Kastoria, Florina, Pieria and Kozani, as well as in the southern region of Messinia. Firefighters had trouble reaching two of the blazes in Ioannina and Kastoria because of land mines dating from World War II and the Greek Civil war over 60 years ago. With the country’s firefighting resources stretched, three helicopters and two water-dropping planes from Russia are expected to arrive in the next few days. The Russian aircraft will remain in Greece until the end of the summer period. The government, which has been accused of ineffectiveness in its firefighting coordination efforts, will send a team of top ministers to the burnt areas of Aigialeia and Corinth on Monday to assess the damage caused by the fires. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will be accompanied by Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos, Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias in an effort to show a more proactive role being adopted by the government. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias visited scorched Mount Parnitha yesterday, where a blaze destroyed about one-third of the national park last month. The minister said authorities will remain vigilant for illegal building activity on the mountain with the help of a satellite, adding that any dwellings that go up will be quickly demolished. In addition, he said, some 260 specially trained workers from all over Greece are working on barriers to help prevent flooding.