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Forest fires in Greece, the European alert launched

(B2) The forest fires in Greece, particularly around Athens, took on a serious tone, causing several dozen deaths. The Greek forces seem overwhelmed. European aid is mobilizing.

Fire ravages Greek forests (Credit: ECHO)

A dramatic toll

Le last review drawn up on Tuesday (July 24), has been revised upwards. According to Greek firefighters, at least 74 people died in the fires (several of whom were found drowned at sea). And 187 are injured – 164 adults (including 71 hospitalized and 10 in intensive care) and 23 children –. A balance sheet which could increase further because several people could have been made prisoners of the flames, and especially of the smoke.

Rescue by sea

The Greek coast guard was mobilized, especially around Rafina, the only possibility for those surrounded to flee the fires. 14 ships and one aircraft were mobilized. " More than 700 people were gathered on the banks and transported across to the port of Rafina “, says a communicated of the coast guard. Several people drowned.

The army in reinforcement

A search and rescue team, made up of 130 members of the armed forces and firefighters, patrolled the hardest hit areas of Voutsa, Mati and Rafina in search of victims, according to firefighters.

The 'blue' plan triggered

On Monday night (July 23), Greece activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism and requested help from its European partners. Three Member States have already responded: Spain, Cyprus and Bulgaria, confirmed the spokesperson for the European Commission Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela during the daily press briefing on Tuesday (July 24). European Commissioner for Civil Protection, Christos Stylianides, will go to Greece, notably with the aim of coordinating European assistance with the national authorities. The European Commission remains in “ permanent contact with the authorities, in case there are other requests and needs to be fulfilled and to coordinate the efforts of all Member States ».

In letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker reaffirmed that everything will be done to support Greece in these difficult times.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with Aurélie Pugnet st.)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).