Breaking Earth News
National State of Emergency
Worst Fires to Hit Greece in Decades
A nationwide state of emergency has been declared in Greece, amid a rising death toll from raging forest fires. 47 people have died and many others may be trapped on the Peloponnesian peninsula. Radio stations are being inundated with calls from people in remote mountain villages saying they are surrounded by fire. Almost 200 fires have been reported - there were about 70 new blazes during Saturday, while many others continued to burn from the previous day. Strong winds have blown smoke and ash towards Athens 330km (200 miles) away, starting more fires and blocking out the sun over the capital. Fire crews said they had found at least 30 bodies in villages near Zaharo as they searched burned out cars and houses. "It's a tragedy," an eyewitness told Greek television. "I can see the burnt bodies of a mother holding her child in her arms. Further away there are more bodies. It's terrible." Emergency workers have been finding charred bodies in fields, homes, and in cars. Fire officials confirmed that three firefighters were among the dead.
Emergency services have been overwhelmed. Friday was previously the deadliest day of a terrible summer of forest fires, a war of attrition against the flames that has now been raging for two months. At least nine people are reported to have burned to death in their cars as they attempted to flee the flames in the western Peloponnese region. The victims, driving near the town of Zahero, were surrounded by a wall of fire and could not break through. A local prefect close to the scene described it as horrific. "The situation is extremely dire... The speed with which this fire has been spreading is astonishing." Scores of other people in the region have been taken to hospital with burns. The biggest fires are still raging out of control, whipped up by dry winds gusting up to gale force, which have hampered the efforts of water-dropping aircraft.
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