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A Greek website monitors disasters in the Balkans

07 August 2013 / 13:08:39  GRReporter
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Scientists from the Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Applications of the National Observatory of Athens have developed a website for the real-time monitoring of outbreaks of fires in Greece. The website http://ocean.space.noa.gr/seviri/fend_new/index.php uses information from the European satellite SEVIRI. "The website has been operating for two years already, mostly servicing the fire departments," Harris Kondoes, a scientist at the National Observatory of Athens, told Kathimerini newspaper.
    The information on the website is updated every 5 minutes. The yellow-orange-red colour range indicates the places where there are outbreaks and the brightness of the colours depends on the intensity of the flames. A separate window displays the municipality, which is at risk of fire.


    Another website, http://ocean.space.noa.gr/diachronic_bsm, contains information on forests in Greece from 1984 onwards and it is updated each year after the end of the fire season. "This website is very useful and we follow it on an hourly basis during the season of fires. It allows an initial assessment of the magnitude of the disaster and shows its exact location and the surrounding area. It enables us to pre-assess the risks," Trifonas Daskalakis, head of "Forest and environmental protection division" told Kathimerini newspaper too. This website provides the fire departments with valuable information on how to reach the flames, especially if they are in remote and inaccessible areas.
    The European Commission has awarded with a budget of 2.3 million euro this service, called BEYOND, which, within three years, will cover the whole of Southeast Europe and the Balkans and will monitor not only fires, but also floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, weather dirt, dust, smoke and all types of disasters.


    Meanwhile, To Vima newspaper reports that the authorities have apprehended a man, aged 60, who is suspected of intentionally causing yesterday’s fire in the suburb of Varibombi in Athens. The man lives in the neighbouring district of Kapandriti and he is a car mechanic. In the past, he had been detained for illegal logging. The police had apprehended him when he was trying to set fire to a bunch of dry grass near the Athens-Thessaloniki highway near Varibombi, having found cans of petrol and many flammable materials in his car. The police have asked the prosecutors to investigate his mobile phone and to localise his whereabouts during the night, when the fire in Varibombi started and on 17 July, when another fire had broken out near the Riding Club in the suburb of Markopoulo.
     Due to the high risk of fire, the police have prohibited pedestrians and vehicles from moving around the forests in the region of Athens from sunset to sunrise. The ban is effective from yesterday, Tuesday, 6 August to Saturday, 10 August. The authorities do not exclude the possibility of it being extended to daytime hours and after Saturday if the risk of large fires remains high.

Tags: FiresNatural disastersSoutheast EuropeNational Observatory of AthensVaribombiIntentional arson
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