On August 22, the Greek fire brigade found the bodies of 18 people in the Evros region of northern Greece. This in the midst of a strong wave of conflagrations that is plaguing the Mediterranean country. According to the Greek government, part of the victims were immigrants.
In a rural area of the province of Evros, on the border with Turkey, 18 cremated bodies were found in the midst of a wave of fires that have plagued the country for four days. It happened near the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, where the flames have affected the local population since last Saturday.
The bodies were found near the Dadia forest in the northeastern region of Evros, in a popular area for the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Asia, where people arrive after passing through Turkey.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of at least 18 immigrants as a result of the fire in the Dadia forest,” local media outlet ‘Kathimerini’ reported, citing the country’s Immigration Minister, Dimitris Kairides.
Another of the most serious effects of the fire was the evacuation of dozens of people who were in the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis. On a ferry, the patients were transferred this Tuesday morning to the port of Kavala, as reported by the local radio station ERT. More than 60 people were evacuated as a precautionary measure. The ferry had to adapt and provide the services of a makeshift medical center; With patients on the ground and some others on the couch, paramedics treated the evacuees as they made their way from Alexandroupoli.
Firefighters have worked hard to counter the increase in conflagrations. This Monday, in the northern and central areas of the country, two people died and two firefighters were injured as a result of separate fires.
Avantas, a town near Alexandroupolis, had received evacuation orders for several days. The flames devastated several houses on the night of August 21, then the police announced the activation of the country’s Disaster Victim Identification Team for the identification of bodies in the area of the municipality.
NGO warns of 250 trapped migrants
Alexandroupoli is a city close to the border between Turkey and Greece, therefore, it is a frequent step for immigrants going to the rest of the countries of the European Union. Coming from different parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, people flee their countries to seek new alternatives in the Old Continent through the Evros River, the natural border between Ankara and Athens.
Alarm Phone, an NGO, warned about the increase of immigrants on the Turkish-Greek border. The organization receives alert calls from immigrants in danger in the Mediterranean Sea and assured that it received a call for help from 250 migrants trapped in the Evros River.
On August 3, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for an investigation to clarify what happened in a shipwreck of immigrants off Greece last month, in which, according to the Reuters news agency, there were hundreds of fatalities.
The ship victim of the shipwreck was carrying more than 500 people from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt. She sank during her passage through Greece after sailing from Libya en route to Italy. From the emergency, 104 people survived and the authorities have recovered only 82 bodies.
The NGOs, in a joint statement, claimed to have interviewed various sectors involved in the emergency: survivors, relatives of the victims, governmental and non-governmental organizations. When contrasting the accounts, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International assure that the testimonies “were extremely worrying.” For their part, the Greek judicial authorities have already initiated a process to find out the causes of the emergency.
Flames do not let up in Greece
Forest fires are common during the summer. However, they have worsened in recent years thanks to warmer temperatures, drier conditions and winds that are linked to climate change.
The National Meteorological Observatory of Athens assures that only in Evros 38,000 hectares have burned. For this August 22, 63 fires have been recorded, 14 of them in Evros, according to the spokesman for the Greek Government, Pavlos Marinakis, in dialogue with the local radio station ERT.
In Sapes, a town 32 kilometers from Alexandroupolis, the flames have forced the evacuation of ammunition depots for vehicles due to the danger of fire. In parallel, in the municipality of Fyli, 15 kilometers north of Athens, Civil Protection has ordered the evacuation of several buildings due to the proximity of the flames.
To deal with the emergency, Greece appealed for help to the European Union. According to the Greek fire brigade, 56 firefighters from Romania and five water-dropping planes from Croatia, Germany and Sweden arrived in the country in response. In turn, on August 22, nine water tanks from the Czech Republic were blown up.
The multiple conflagrations hit the Mediterranean country when all of southern Europe is being affected by a heat wave that reaches temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in some countries on the continent.
With Reuters, EFE and AP
Source: France 24