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Forest fires lay siege to Greek capital

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Forest fires lay siege to Greek capital


Thousands of Greeks are in a battle to save their homes from being consumed by forest fires raging to the northeast of Athens.

Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency and the army has been mobilised to help protect the ancient capital. However, the hot gale-force winds that hampered firefighters and helped spread the flames have died down giving the exhausted and stretched emergency services a chance to halt the destruction. But weather watchers say the winds may well whip up again compounding the problems faced by the fire service. The wildfires reached the walls of the Saint Ephrem monastery forcing the Monks to remove the remains of the saint. Environmentalists claim the damage to date is huge with an estimated 120,000 hectares of virgin fir and prime forest laid to waste. Help from fellow EU member states has begun to arrive. Italian aircraft are at work and more are expected from France and Cyprus. The blaze broke out on Friday in the village of Grammatiko 40 kilometers outside the Greek capital and quickly spread to neighbouring villages.

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