NEWS

Apologies and aid for fire victims

The government apologized yesterday to victims of last week’s fires that devastated large tracts of Corinth, west of Athens, and promised to increase financial aid to the area to 1.5 million euros. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who headed a meeting of ministers and senior government officials in Corinth, apologized on behalf of the government to those who suffered from the fire and said the state will stand beside them. The Corinth fire burnt 2,500 hectares, of which 1,500 hectares was forestland, according to the minister. The conservative government has offered to raise the 400,000 euros in aid previously granted to the Corinth municipality to 1 million euros while offering an additional 500,000 euros to other municipalities that have been hit by fire in the greater area. Residents whose houses have been destroyed by fire will receive a 3,000-euro grant while the government will also offer them prefabricated shelters. Meanwhile, firefighters continued to battle 14 large forest fires across the country that have been burning for several days. More than 200 men, backed by 50 vehicles and four aircraft, were struggling to contain seven blazes, mostly in central and northwest Greece. Authorities said the fire at Amaranto and Vathilako, near Ioannina in northwestern Greece, posed a particular threat as it was burning forestland that now covers old minefields. Other fires broke out Gytheion, in the southern Peloponnese and Skafi, near Hania on Crete.