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Greece Taking Stock

  • September 6th, 2007
  • Posted by Susie Lipscomb

greek-fire.jpgGreece has just pulled through an 11-day onslaught of wild fires (ending 3.9.07) in what’s been described as the worst year on record for forest fires.

There’s now a strange follow-up in the wings, with a threat of extensive floods.

Authorities declared a “state of emergency” in Greece last week as fires tore across the country, from the island of Evia north of Athens, to the Peloponnese in the south.

More than 60 people died in the blazes and about 100 fires have reportedly burned each day since August 24, burning out 200 thousand hectares of countryside.

Fire services declared the blazes all out, on Monday… but they’re not taking a breather just yet, with crews on stand-by everywhere.

Authorities from across the EU and around the world have come to Greece’s aid.

The EU’s coordinated approach, the Community Civil Protection Mechanism, deployed ten Canadairs (water bombing aircraft), three Pilatus planes and 12 helicopters.

Managers for the Mechanism said it was its largest project to date, within the European Union itself.

More than 400 specialists outside the European Union also chipped in, including aircraft crew, fire fighters and logisticians.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, wrote to his Greek counterpart, Costas Karamanlis, to express sympathy and offer help.

“Australians well understand the damage and destruction that such fires can cause,” he said.

He pledged A$3- million along with expertise: two bushfire management officers, a bushfire investigation officer, a forest fire behaviour expert and an aviation management expert.

Now, just days after firefighting teams from across the world have managed to bring the fires under control, Greece is facing a possible new threat.

The national weather service this week began predicting sporadic rain and thunderstorms, with an outloook for floods.


Reference:

European Commission, “Description of the Emergencies”. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/forestfires_el_2007.htm (2.9.07)

Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister, “Fires in Greece – Offer of Further Assistance”, 28.8.07. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2007/Media_Release24517.cfm (2.9.07).

_________________ “Fires in Greece” ,(27.8.07). http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2007/Media_Release24514.cfm (2.9.07)

“Greece faces floods in country’s north”, CBC News, 2.9.07.
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/09/02/greece-floods.html (2.9.07)

European Union, Assistance through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism (EU and Norway):

• France (4 Canadairs and 62 forest fire-fighters)
• Italy (1 Canadair)
• Spain (4 Canadairs)
• Portugal (1 Canadair and 2 experts)
• Norway (1 helicopter)
• Germany (3 helicopters)
• Austria (2 helicopters and 3 Pilatus planes)
• Sweden (1 AB-205 & 2 experts)
• The Netherlands (3 helicopters)
• Romania (1 helicopter)
• Cyprus (6 fire-engines and 137 forest fire-fighters)
• Slovenia (1 helicopter)
• Further assistance was also offered by the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/forestfires_el_2007.htm (2.9.07)

Images:

Fires video, see www.europa.eu (Greece forest fires),

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8S8wh8DfXM

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