Greece declared a nationwide state of emergency as the country’s worst forest fires in decades continue to rage. At least 47 people have died with many more trapped in villages surrounded by flames. With Swathes of the Peloponnese peninsula ablaze as well as the island of Evia and parts of the eastern suburbs of Athens thousands have fled as hundreds of homes and businesses were consumed by flames. Church bells tolled as hundreds of villages were evacuated.
Police have arrested a number of individuals on suspicion of arson and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has vowed to hunt down the culprits, implying the fires were started deliberatley. Greece called on it’s EU partners for help and 11 countries have responded sending firefighters, 14 planes and 11 helicopters. Authorities estimate that 100 fires are burning nationwide and blamed on soaring temperatures, winds, drought and arson.