Fire crisis eases in Greece

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Fire crisis eases in Greece

Fire crisis eases in Greece
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Firefighters on the Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece appear to be bringing a huge blaze there under control.

Thousands of tourists, including several hundred Britons, and residents were evacuated from the area last night as flames came perilously close to resorts and homes.

One German holidaymaker drowned after suffering a heart attack while trying to board a boat with his wife and child during a sea evacuation from a beach.

Coastguard vessels, private boats and fishing trawlers helped take hundreds of people from beaches overnight, where they had fled in panic; many others had to spend the night on the sand.

“It’s not difficult, the sea does not burn so we do not fear for our lives because of the sea but it is very unpleasant,” said one tourist.

About 50 people were hospitalised overnight with breathing difficulties and burns, some serious. Most of them have now been released.

One tourist became aware of the fire during dinner at a local restaurant, and says it was mayhem:

“Everybody started to run everywhere, east, west, north and south. Nobody knew what to do. There was complete chaos.”

Locals accused firefighters of being slow to react but hundreds worked through the night, joined at dawn by special planes.

Local officials estimate some 10,000 acres of land and dozens of houses have been destroyed. The blaze swept through a local farm, killing hundreds of animals.

It is thought the blaze may have been started deliberately, although Greece is experiencing one of its hottest weeks this year, with temperatures of 42 degrees Celcius.