14 Aug Desperate bid to save animals in wildfire on Greek Island o…
‘Precious’ mountain wildlife has been destroyed by a fire that has been raging through the Greek Island of Evia since the early hours of Tuesday.
Pictures show ‘unique and untouched’ pine trees left completely blackened as authorities attempt to contain the fire for a second day.
Farmers and volunteers have also been photographed desperately searching for animals in the rubble.
There have been no reports of human casualties, but many fear for the livestock that inhabited the forest and surrounding villages.
‘Things are going better, but we must not relax our vigilance’ Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters aboard a fire department bus.
He added: ‘Conditions are exceptionally difficult and the state’s first priority is to protect lives’.
The blaze burned for a second day in a ravine at the 550-hectare wildlife habitat of Agrilitsa, causing major damage to pine forests.
The fire, on Greece’s second-largest island, prompted the evacuation of four villages.
Abandoned cars and burnt out tree stumps can be seen in the wreckage in places where the fire has stopped.
Thanassis Karakatzas, a deputy regional civil protection officer said: ‘From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli everything has been burned down. It’s fortunate that we do not have human victims’.
Officials described it as a ‘huge ecological disaster’ and declared a state of emergency in the country.
The wildfire in Evia is one of 56 that have swept the country’s forests since Monday, when temperatures soared to 40 degrees.
The flames have been fanned by gale-force winds and have led to a huge emergency response involving more than one thousands firefighters.
In Evia, some 280 firefighters, volunteers, soldiers, six water-dropping planes and six helicopters have been deployed to the island.
Croatia and Italy has sent in four firefighting planes after ministers called on the EU for assistance.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has cut short his summer holiday and returned to the Greek capital to visit the fire department’s main coordination centre.
He promised that the government will make interventions in the overall operation of the Civil Protection agency after the end of the fire risk season in Greece
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