‘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

Lull before the storm
Updated 24 Oct 2021

Lull before the storm

It does not take rocket science to figure out why each of the two sides is taking the stand it is.
The larger debate
Updated 23 Oct 2021

The larger debate

The revelations show how the economy promotes inequality.

Editorial

Anti-government rallies
Updated 24 Oct 2021

Anti-government rallies

Banning a party because it can create a public nuisance sets a dangerous precedent which can be repeated to justify future bans.
24 Oct 2021

End of polio?

AFTER a long struggle, the reward is finally in sight. With only a single case of wild poliovirus reported this year...
24 Oct 2021

Heritage work

IT is encouraging that, slowly, projects of heritage conservation and preservation appear to be taking off. These...
A final push
Updated 23 Oct 2021

A final push

PAKISTAN’S hopes of exiting the so-called FATF grey list have been shattered once again. The global money...
23 Oct 2021

Kabul visit

FOREIGN MINISTER Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s flying visit to Kabul on Thursday is the first official high-level...
23 Oct 2021

Baqir’s blooper

THE remarks made by State Bank governor Reza Baqir at a London press conference have hit a raw nerve in Pakistan. In...