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Greece worries about new heat wave

Greece worries about new heat wave

Forest fires which have devastated southern Greece and claimed 63 lives in eight days died down yesterday but emergency services feared a new heatwave could rekindle some blazes.
"Things are going well," a fire service spokesman said, adding that the fires were no longer threatening populated areas after endangering villages on Thursday in the ravaged peninsula of Peloponnese.
Firefighters assisted by three water-bombing planes were operating around Mount Parnon in the Peloponnese where fires were still burning, the spokesman said.
Further north on the peninsula, four planes were flying over burning forests to dump water on fires.
The other area of concern was on the island of Evia to the north of Athens, although soldiers and firefighters had the blaze there under control.
Despite the improvement, temperatures were set to top 40 degrees Celsius at the weekend.
The wildfires broke out on August 24 following the third heatwave the country had experienced this summer.
The task for the increasingly weary fire crews was made easier by a drop in winds that had reached 70 kilometers per hour last weekend.
Authorities warned they were locked in a race against time to snuff out the fires before the winds picked up strength.
"When there is a heatwave it is always a concern, but it is above all else the threat from the wind that worries us," the fire service spokesman said.
"Today the wind is not strong, so the idea is to win the battle today before the wind picks up."
Meanwhile, funerals of the victims began to take place across Peloponnese, where more than 40 people died.
The village of Artemida prepared for the burials of a mother and four children who have become the symbols of this disaster.
Although the fires raged over up to 200,000 hectares, the government said the impact on the economy would be relatively low because the areas affected were mainly rural with small farms or olive groves.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was due in Greece later yesterday to express solidarity with the victims, the Greek national agency ANA reported.


Updated : 2021-05-14 18:30 GMT+08:00