Mitsotakis: Difficult times in next few days due to wildfires; state of emergency in half the country

Thursday, 05 Aug 2021 23:10 UPD: 23:10 /

Greece faces an extremely critical situation, similar to other countries in the Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday evening, during a nationally televised address in the wake of dozens of wildfires raging in the country, including one that has cut the main north-south highway serving Athens and threatening the capital with power outages.

Mitsotakis said the government's top priority is to protect human lives, then property, the natural environment and crucial infrastructure. "Unfortunately, a simultaneous achievement of all these targets is simply impossible," he added.

"The state apparatus and our women and men in the fire brigade our have made extraordinary efforts ...We ought to show them our gratitude in practical ways, recognizing that sometimes we ask them to do things that are simply beyond their powers," he stressed.

He warned that difficult times lie ahead, as strong winds are forecast for Friday, after some 10 days of a record-breaking heat wave in the country.

The worst wildfires continue to rage just north of Athens, centered around the Varibobi township, another in Ilia prefecture, in southern Greece, as well as in the northern part of large Evia island.

He also called on the public to restrict unnecessary movement and be careful, and to follow orders for evacuations. "Houses can be rebuilt and trees again grow, but human life cannot be replaced," he said, calling for unity and saying whatever criticism and self-criticism will be conducted, "but not now".

"Properties will be rebuilt and farmers compensated, while all burned forestland will be reforested," he stressed.

Meanwhile, several communities were evacuated after the Varibobi wildfire expanded eastwards from the foothills of Mount Parnitha on Thursday evening.

The main Athens-Lamia highway was also closed, while rail service was interrupted.

Earlier, the the Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO) warned of possible scheduled power outages in northern Athens and other sites in Attica prefecture as well as some Cyclades islands, depending on the course of the wildfire at Varibobi and Kryoneri.

IPTO said the wildfire had knocked out two lines linked with the extra high voltage center of Aghios Stefanos, east of Kryoneri.


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