Greek DeathToll Reaches 15 in Peloponnese Wildfires

(ANA) A multi-front spate of wildfires, extending from the central Peloponnese down to Laconia prefecture in the extreme south, claimed the lives of no less than 15 people on Friday, a shocking development amid an already fire-marred 2007 summer season in the heat-struck east Mediterranean country.

In the latest report, nine deaths were reported near the village of Makistos, east of the coastal town of Zaharo, in Ilia prefecture of western Peloponnese, in the late afternoon.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was reportedly heading to the scene of the conflagration, while the relevant public order minister was already on the scene.

Prime Minister Karamanlis
tours disaster area (ANA photos)

Earlier, a fire brigade spokesman said that no less than 129 wildfires had erupted over 24 hours, between Thursday and Friday afternoon, with the worst place centred in the Areopolis district on the border between Laconia and Messinia prefectures, in the extreme south of mainland Greece. Most of the provincial roadways in the Peloponnese were blocked off, as flames were fanned by winds of up to nine on the beaufort scale, a weather parameter that also made flights by fire-fighting aircraft difficult.

Earlier in the day, the charred bodies of five people were recovered, believed to be guests or staff of a Mani-area hotel. No names were released.

Of other wildfires in Greece, fire brigade officials said one in the industrial district of Elefsina, west of the greater Athens area, posed a threat to fuel tanks in the area.

The worst of the wildfires, on the slopes of Mt. Taygetus, raged towards Kalamata (and not Sparta as reported previously), causing the evacuation of several villages and a children's summer camp in the area.

Another blaze was ravaging Mt. Parnona, whereas a wildfire in the Megalopoli district, near the central Peloponnese city of Tripolis, also caused the evacuation of several villages.

According to reports, land lines and mobile phones are down throughout Laconia prefecture, whereas a state of emergency has been declared in Messinia and Laconia prefectures.

(Posting date 25 August 2007)

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