“An Unspeakable Tragedy” — 170 fires burning, 44 dead, government shaken

In contrast to the Zaca fire in Southern California, which has killed nobody and damaged no major structures, the fires in Greece this year have been devastating. Over 170 fires are now burning around the country. Mostly they are wildfires in the hills, but yesterday a fire broke out in Athens itself that required ten engines to quell.

The prime minister has called the disaster "an unspeakable tragedy."

Temps reached 42 degrees Celsius, or about 108 degrees Fahrenheit, in Athens, according to the AP.

The fires have been burning for weeks, and the conservative government has been bitterly criticized for its weak effort to fight them, reports the BBC. The death toll jumped from 28 to 37 overnight, and then to 44 this morning. Yet although the wires have been covering this story for weeks if not months, still no big paper has sent a reporter to dig out the larger issues. Too dramatic, I guess.

Greece has suffered its worst summer for forest fires this year,
with hundreds of blazes burning thousands of hectares of forest and
brushland.

With early elections just three weeks away, the
devastating fires are certain to become a political issue. The
government has come under criticism for its response to previous fires,
which killed 10 people.

The tragedy has also killed firefighters, including the two in this plane, which slammed into a mountain after dropping a load of retardants on a wildfire in Evia.

[photo from foivosloxias licensed with Creative Commons.]

Heroes_summer_2007_greece

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