“We Fought a Great Battle”

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Greece Fires
Greece is dealing with multiple severe fires across the country. Credit: Greek Reporter

As Greece’s firefighters continue their fight to subdue the wildfires ravaging the country, the nation’s civil protection chief Nikos Hardalias has praised their firefighting response thus far, noting that all available resources were used in their effort to contain the spread of the fires.

Hardalias described the wildfires as the most serious challenge Greece’s fire service has ever faced. “We handled an operationally unique situation, with 586 fires in eight days during the worst weather conditions we’ve seen in 40 years,” said Hardalias, speaking at a news conference, “never was there such a combination of adverse factors in the history of the fire service.”

“Whether we could have done something different remains to be seen,” remarked Hardalias. “But in any case, we fought a great battle, and the losses were among those fighting it, not among civilians.”

A volunteer firefighter has perished in the fires, and over 60,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. Two firefighters are currently in intensive care with serious burn injuries.

Hardalias’s statements come after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis publicly apologized “for any weaknesses” in the country’s efforts to contain and stop the gigantic wildfires. Mitsotakis apologized in a televised address to the nation that was broadcast at 7:30 PM local time yesterday.

Mitsotakis has also pledged 500 million euros in additional funds for those hurt by the wildfires.

“We have already secured from the Recovery Fund significant resources for reforestation, mostly in Evia and Attica. While today I approved an additional budget of 500 million euros specifically for these areas. And if necessary, there will be additional European aid. Our bet is to set the standard for a new beginning, a dynamic restart, to which I am confident that institutions, businesses and, above all, civil society itself will respond,” the Greek Prime Minister stated.

Greece’s firefighters continue their efforts for an eighth consecutive day

Greece is fighting for the eighth consecutive day with its fires, particularly on two main fronts: The north of the island of Evia and the broader area of Gortynia in the Peloponnesian regional unit of Arcadia.

The country’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated on Monday that there had been a total of 63 orderly evacuations of towns and villages in the past several days while 586 fires had broken out all around the country.

According to the latest announcement issued by the National Observatory of Athens, Greece has lost 93,368 hectares (230,717 acres) of forests in 2021 alone.

These figures are based on calculations made by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

Greece comes third in Europe, after Turkey and Italy, in total numbers of burned land, with a staggering increase of 336 percent, compared to the average between 2002 and 2020.

These figures show the magnitude of the environmental, social, and financial catastrophe Greece has been enduring, with the situation still not being completely over.

 

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