Greek officials will be visiting the area today to assess the damage and decide on further actions. At the same time, an investigation is underway to determine the causes of the fires which have been burning vast areas of woodland across the country. Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said 119 arrests for arson had been made. On Sunday, he visited by helicopter several areas hit by the fires in Alexandroupolis, Northeastern Greece.
In his Sunday prayer at St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his support for Greece, referring to the deadly fires, which have so far cost the lives of 21 people.
“I pray for the victims of the fires that broke out these days in the north-eastern regions of Greece, and I express my solidarity with the Greek people,” Pope Francis said.
According to Greece’s fire service, more than 122 fires were burning on Sunday with flare-ups keeping several fronts active. Over the weekend, 46 new fires were reported, including on the island of Andros, in Viotia, Messinia, and on Mt Taygetos in the Peloponnese.
The Civil Protection Ministry issued several 112 evacuation notices on Sunday for the regions of Evros and Rodopi, where fires have been burning for over a week. In an interview to Thraki.com, the president of the Thrace Hoteliers Association, Apostolos Palakidis, said the ongoing fires had taken a toll on tourism activity. Booking interest from Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania had died down as well as demand for September.
The massive fire burning woodland for days in Northeastern Greece is the largest ever recorded in the European Union, said Copernicus and the World Meteorological Organization. The burnt area, they said, has now reached 77,000 hectares with 120 active hotspots.
Starting Monday and through to October 11, Alexandroupoli residents affected by the fires can apply for financial support, the municipality announced.
On Friday, the Civil Protection Ministry also released a total of 850,000 euros in the first round of compensation to the victims of fires that hit Greece in July.
*In case of fire you are advised to call the 112 emergency hotline.