‘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

Capacity for cruelty
04 Aug 2021

Capacity for cruelty

Those who believe in the human capacity to eschew cruelty are believed to be stupid and naïve.
Education crisis
Updated 04 Aug 2021

Education crisis

It is imperative to avoid measures that could further dent an already weak and vulnerable school system.
Off the planet
04 Aug 2021

Off the planet

Billionaires are yet to match the accomplishments of 60 years ago.
Films and reality
03 Aug 2021

Films and reality

It is hard to remember if films ever glamorised the relationship between first cousins.

Editorial

PML-N’s dilemma
Updated 04 Aug 2021

PML-N’s dilemma

The road ahead for the PML-N is going to be long and bumpy no matter which narrative it follows.
04 Aug 2021

Attacks on cops

AMIDST cautious optimism that Pakistan may be finally beginning to achieve success in bringing the number of polio...
04 Aug 2021

Myanmar about-face

SIX months into the coup that sent Myanmar’s hybrid civ-mil government packing, the generals have made their...
03 Aug 2021

Changing GB’s status

THE government’s plans to accord a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan are progressing steadily and...
Taliban assault
03 Aug 2021

Taliban assault

Intra-Afghan peace talks should be promoted, but the global community must be ready for the imminent collapse of the Afghan state.
03 Aug 2021

Cancelling Aurat March

THE cancellation of Aurat March Faisalabad is exactly one of those ‘isolated incidents’ which, when viewed...