Hundreds flee due to forest fires

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Posted by on 26 Jul 2007

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One person was killed and hundreds evacuated in one of the worst forest fires this summer. As firefighters battled 197 fronts, the blazes in the northern Peloponnese and on Kefalonia in particular caused widespread destruction.

The victim, a 75-year-old man identified as livestock farmer Spyros Lambropoulos from the village of Mamousia, had been burned to death in a village in the municipality of Aigion in the northern Peloponnese last night, authorities said. More than 100 firefighters struggled to control the wildfire that started on Monday.

Sweeping through a number of villages in the area, the fire destroyed houses and causing hundreds of residents to flee. Army helicopters airlifted several villagers to safety. Precise figures were not immediately available.

Last night a fire on the Ionian island of Kefalonia also caused havoc and was still out of control. Fanned by a strong wind, the blaze broke out in the southeast part of the island late on Tuesday night. Authorities said that homes had been destroyed in the villages of Pastra and Aghios Georgios. Further details were not available last night.

Three blazes on Greece's border with Albania, near Kastoria were also keeping firefighters busy. One of the fires, burning through a forest on Mount Grammos, forced some 200 people to flee the village of Kypseli. A forested area near the village of Hamilo, close to Kilkis was also affected as a wildfire crossed Greece's border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Criticizing the government's handling of the wildfires, PASOK leader George Papandreou said, “The government is incapable of dealing with this national ecological crisis,” after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias.

The government has rejected a proposal by Papandreou for party leaders to meet to discuss how to deal with the fires.  

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