A multi-national force of firefighters says it has finally controlled wildfires that have been threatening the suburbs of Athens for the last four days.
Local residents, including nuns at a 10th century monastery, had also been involved in efforts to beat back wind-driven flames. Thousands of people in other communities to the north and east of the ancient capital were forced to evacuate. Up to 100 individual fires had started since the start of the weekend but the front line lay between Aghios Stefanos and Pikermi. Dozens of firefighting aircraft took the battle to the skies. Water-bearing planes or helicopters have been sent by Italy, France, Cyprus, Turkey and Spain. Greece itself has the largest fleet of firefighting aircraft in the region, with 21 planes, but the government faces criticism that it is not enough, and that local authorities were poorly prepared. Thousands of acres have been scorched in what one local governor described as “an ecological disaster.”