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Islanders count the cost after devastating fire off Sicilian coast

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By Euronews
The island of Stromboli, Italy
The island of Stromboli, Italy   -   Copyright  Salvatore Cavalli/AP, FILE PHOTO

Islanders and volunteers rallied again last night to try to contain a fire that ripped across the volcanic island of Stromboli off the Sicilian coast, causing what eyewitnesses described as "incalculable" damage.

Marco Giorgianni, the mayor of nearby Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, said on Friday he wanted to see a state of natural disaster declared over the days-long blaze.

Tens of hectares have been razed to the ground over the past 48 hours and many of the island's less than 1,000-strong population have reported damage to their homes. 

The blaze was tamed last night with the support of fire brigades and volunteers sent by ferry from Lipari in the middle of the night. The carabinieri were also dispatched to the scene to keep inhabitants and tourists away from danger. 

The extent of the damage is now being assessed but Giorgianni said it was likely to be "huge". The local authority is also trying to ascertain who if anyone was culpable for the blaze. 

The fire started on Wednesday morning and spread rapidly because of the wind. Villas were evacuated on the first night, as well as a hillside restaurant in which about 30 tourists were having dinner. 

On the first night, a helicopter spraying water along the crest of the mountain was forced to return to base due to the darkness. An official from Sicily's Civil Protection Department was on the scene on Friday to assess the crisis response.

Additional sources • ANSA