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Fires put Greek govt under pre-election pressure

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Fires put Greek govt under pre-election pressure


There is growing anger aimed at the Greek government over its handling of the country’s spate of devastating fires. More than 60 people have been killed on the Peloponnese peninsula and the island of Evia, north of Athens. With just three weeks to go before Greece goes to the polls, the conservative government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is facing newspaper headlines calling them “The Elections of Wrath”. The premier said the infernos are a national tragedy and called for new relations between the public and the state.

But already the socialist opposition has cut the gap in opinion polls, accusing the government of “incompetence” and being incapable of saving lives, property and homes. Charities have already begun delivering aid to those who have been left with nothing. Thousands are now homeless and without any means of support, the fires having consumed crops and livestock. The church has been coordinating charity efforts and has opened its doors to provide shelter for the homeless.

Firefighters are exhausted after trying to keep up with the outbreaks for four days. Overstretched teams have been tackling fires on 25 separate fronts.

Greece has declared a nationwide state of emergency, and other countries have sent equipment and manpower to help. The government has offered rewards of up to a million euros for help tracking down arsonists they believe started the fires. Ministers have also earmarked individual payments to residents and businesses, left devastated.

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