The wildfires that ripped through the suburbs of Athens forcing residents to flee their homes are now under control.
Thousands of hectares of virgin fir and prime forest have been destroyed and hundreds of houses burnt to the ground. The fire broke out last Friday in the village of Grammatiko north east of Athens and spread with speed. Greek, Italian and French fire-fighting planes worked alongside the fire service and Greek army to calm the flames that raged for three days. Now it is the government of Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis that is under fire. Many feel the authorities failed to learn lessons from the fatal forest fires in 2007. The Greek press has been on the attack. One headline read “Farce”, while another trumpeted “Criminal State”. “The Pine Trees are to blame” read a third. The political implications for Karamanlis, as he clings to power with a majority of one, are clear with the Socialist opposition vowing a new election in March.