Australia / Greece — Prime Minister John Howard says he has written to his Greek counterpart to express his sadness at the loss of life in the bushfire emergency in his country.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd has also offered his condolences.
Reports from Greece indicate the fires have killed 63 people in the past four days, with up to 89 blazes still burning across the country.
“Like all Australians I have been saddened by the tragic loss of life and property in the fires burning across Greece,” Mr Howard said today.
“Australians well understand the damage and destruction that such fires can cause.
“On behalf of all Australians, I express our deep sympathy to the government and people of Greece.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with those Greek Australians whose families may have been affected.”
Mr Howard said that, given the loss of life and the scale of the damage, Australia would offer $3 million in assistance.
“Commonwealth and state officials are also working urgently to ascertain what incident management and fire fighting expertise Australia might most usefully make available to Greek authorities,” he said.
“I have written to Prime Minister (Kostas) Karamanlis to express our sympathy and to convey this offer.”
Mr Rudd said his party’s thoughts and prayers were with the Greek people and the 600,000 Greek Australians with families in Greece.
“On behalf of the Australian Labor Party, it is with profound sadness and regret that I offer my condolences to the government and people of Greece for their loss in the recent bush fires,” he said in a statement.
“I extend our deepest condolences to the injured, and to the many families who have lost loved ones in these tragic circumstances.
“Our thoughts are also with the firefighters, soldiers and other emergency services that remain on the front line – who are putting themselves at risk to protect others.”