‘Ecological disaster’ feared as Greece battles forest fire

Published May 23, 2021
A fire fighting airplane sprays water to extinguish a wild fire on Mount Geraneia, west of Athens on Saturday. — AFP
A fire fighting airplane sprays water to extinguish a wild fire on Mount Geraneia, west of Athens on Saturday. — AFP

ATHENS: Hundreds of firefighters battled Greece’s first major forest fire of the summer on Saturday, as experts warned of a “huge ecological disaster” in the nature conservation area near Athens.

The fire, which broke out late on Wednesday in the Geraneia mountains some 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of the capital, is “one of the biggest in the past 20 to 30 years, and has come early in the season,” fire chief Stefanos Kolokouris told ANT1 television.

He said better weather conditions allowed firefighters to bring the main front of the outbreak under control late on Friday, but there remain “several active and scattered” blazes.

More than 270 firefighters, backed by 16 aircraft and by the army, were fighting the blazes, the fire service said. No injuries have been reported, but a number of houses have been damaged or destroyed and a dozen villages and hamlets evacuated.

The scale of the damage, notably for farmers, will only be clear once the fire is completely under control, the civil protection agency said.

But experts and associations quoted in Greek media have warned of an “ecological disaster on an immense scale”.

Some 54 percent of the dense and hitherto protected pine forests have been burnt, the leftist Avghi daily said. And 6.1 percent of the mountain range is part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of nature conservation sites.

Euthymios Lekkas, professor of environmental disaster management at the University of Athens, said the fires have burnt more than 55 square kilometres (21 square miles) of pine forest and other land, some of it agricultural.

“It’s a huge ecological disaster that needs work to avoid landslides and terrible flooding in the autumn,” he told ERT public television.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Misplaced priorities
Updated 19 Jul, 2024

Misplaced priorities

The government must call its APC at the earliest and invite all stakeholders to take part; this matter cannot be delayed further.
Oman terror attack
19 Jul, 2024

Oman terror attack

THE normally peaceful sultanate of Oman was shaken by sectarian terrorism on Monday when militants belonging to the...
Urban flooding
19 Jul, 2024

Urban flooding

THE provincial authorities have been taking precautionary measures, or so we have been told, to cope with emergency...
A way forward
Updated 17 Jul, 2024

A way forward

Before political leaders inflict more damage, they must give talks a chance.
Export delusions
Updated 18 Jul, 2024

Export delusions

Plummeting exports as a ratio of GDP is one of the major reasons driving the current economic slowdown and the balance-of-payments crisis.
Diversity in UK politics
17 Jul, 2024

Diversity in UK politics

THE recent UK elections have ushered in the most diverse parliament in the nation’s history. Under the leadership...