Greece declares state of emergency as wildfires burn out of control

Greece declares state of emergency as wildfires burn out of control

25 August 2011

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Greece — Greece declared a state of emergency Thursday as wildfires burned out of control for the second straight day.

High winds were fanning wildfires and hampering operations to extinguigh the blaze on eight fronts, which burned out of control near the town of Lefkimi, Evros in north-eastern Greece.

The blaze began on Wednesday and rapidly spread near the villages of Melia and Kila, where residents were evacuated.

Spain was planning to sending two fire-fighting aircraft after the Athens government asked for assistance from the European Union.

Hundreds of foreign students at a holiday camp were also evacuated as the fire swept through more than 25,000 hectares of forest and farmland.

Four water-bombing planes, two helicopters and 15 firetrucks were involved in the operation to bring the wildfire under control, while authorities were calling in reinforcements from other parts of the region to assist the more than 200 firefighters and soldiers.

Greece asked the European Union for assistance in battling the fires on Thursday, with Spain saying it would send two planes later in the day.

The southern Mediterranean island is often hit by forest fires during the hot, dry summer months, leading to the destruction of thousands of acres of forest and entire villages in recent years.

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