Tourists return after fleeing Greek wildfire

Tourists return after fleeing Greek wildfire

23 August 2006

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Halkidiki, Greece — Greek firefighters yesterday raced to exploit a lull in winds fanning a wildfire that ravaged northern holiday resorts, leaving a German tourist dead and dozensinjured.

Thousands of tourists began returning to parts of the Halkidiki peninsula struck by the fire that forced thousands to flee campsites, hotels, and holiday homes.
Fire officials said the fire’s progress indicated arson.

Officials said most people were now able to continue their holidays.

“The conditions have improved. The firefighters are doing a good job,” said Giorgos Kalatzis, minister for Macedonia andThrace.

At least 50 people had hospital treatment for breathing problems and burns. No British casualties werereported.

Up to 1000 UK tourists fled the fire that tore through the resorts of Polychrono, Hanioti, Kriopigi, and Pefkochori. Nearly 1200 people were transported by coastguard vessels across the Gulf of Cassandra, while others fled bycar.

A 41-year-old German man drowned after experiencing heart problems while trying to board boats rescuingtourists.

Many spent the night on the beach, sleeping on sunbeds, while others stayed in temporaryshelters.

A spokeswoman for First Choice Holidays, which has 600 customers in four resorts in the region, said staff worked all night to help evacuees and all customers had been able to return to their accommodation. Thomas Cook said all its 428 customers had returned to theirhotels.

A Foreign Office spokesman said although the fire had been contained, emergency workers feared strong winds could cause furtheroutbreaks.


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