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Flames and chaos seize Athens

23 August 2009 / 20:08:54  GRReporter
1930 reads

A third day of devastating fires in Athenian suburbs, where the firestorm has reached Marathonas, Palini, Aniksi and Drosia; people from Saint Stefan and Eolis have been evacuated, hundreds of houses are burning in Antusa. The situation seems to be out of control, sowing panic in everybody. Anti- fire airplanes are putting out fires in residential neighborhoods. Strong winds of 5 to 6 Beauforts make the work of the fire defense units even harder enflaming old hearths and quickly spread the fire. Prosecutor Gianis Sakelakos has ordered an emergency legal procedure for establishing the reasons for the fire.

Currently, 390 firemen are fighting the disaster in the north Athenian suburbs, together with 130 vehicles, 120 infantrymen, 12 airplanes, 8 helicopters, 340 soldiers from the navy and military aviation, 36 cisterns, and numbers of volunteers. There a lot of ambulances around the neighborhoods burning as a precaution. Civil defense is maintaining constant connection with European quarters, from where emergency help is expected to arrive. Two have already arrived from Thessaloniki at Elefsina military airport. Two more airplanes are expected to arrive from France. The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared that he is ready to send fire cars, personnel and technical aid instantly, in order to help put out Athens firestorms.

The charity organization to the Greek Orthodox Church gave shelter to 28 children from the Hospital for rare children diseases in Pendelis suburb, which was issued an order to evacuate. General pediatric department in Pendelis Hospital have also been evacuated and 16 children have been moved to other hospitals.

Residents in the same suburb claim that they have heard explosions from the buildings of private schools "Kostea Gitona", which they believe preceded the fires. The schools authority, however, denies such occurrences. In the neighborhoods affected by the fires, some problems with electricity supply exist but Greece's National Electricity Company assures that no risk of major accidents in the capital exists.

Meanwhile, this is what Civil Defense advises if the fires reach your house:

  • - Stay calm, don't panic;
  • - Put all easily-inflammable materials away from the yard or the balcony and place them into a closed, safety place.
  • - Take in all tents or umbrellas standing in the yard or the balcony;
  • - Close all windows and cover them with moist cloths so no smoke can enter the house;
  • - If leaving the house is absolutely safe, do it, following the fire defense units instructions;
  • - If leaving the house is not safe, don't do it! Remember, your chances o survival in a brick- and concrete- house are much bigger than in a burning car;
  • - If you have to stay in the house, the whole family should gather in one room and wait;
  • - When the fire is over, go outside and put out any burning hearth;
  • - If an evacuation has been order, strictly follow the instructions of authorities;

Data for injured Bulgarians has not been released so far. The government appeals to all citizens to remain calm in the hard situation.

The raging fires in Greece are top news for worldwide media during the weekend.

Tags: Athens disastrous fires
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