Wildfires in Greece: Could authorities have acted sooner? | DW News

Wildfires in Greece: Could authorities have acted sooner? | DW News

we begin in greece where massive wildfires have left hundreds of people homeless and forced thousands to evacuate the flames have been fanned by greece’s worst heat wave in more than three decades as some smaller blazers are brought under control residents who had been forced to flee are trying to return home many are asking if authorities could have acted sooner our correspondent barbara wessel reports from athens irini has been living on this hillside all her life and now she refuses to leave the neighborhood had been evacuated the night before but irene has come back slowly and all on her own please tell them to throw some water in my house i want to go in police and the firefighter are arguing with the old lady you must come with us it’s too dangerous they say but in the end the police wins of course down the road a group of volunteers is fighting a heroic battle they have commandeered an ancient truck and are trying to save their neighborhood with one fire hose a lot of muscle power and desperation but small fires are constantly rekindling on the hillside of this protected nature reserve part of the green lung of essence the place is on fire we lost the most precious piece of essence we grew up here we’re hurting and crying because of this catastrophe further up the professionals have moved in and a small rescue operation gets underway one of the volunteers has hurt his leg climbing up the steep terrain meanwhile outside help has arrived from france israel bulgaria and other european countries here it’s a cypriot firefighters trying to shoulder the burden the situation is really difficult it’s tragic we work together and help our greek colleagues we face a much worse situation here than we had expected where the firefighters came too late there is total devastation volunteers are battling on with shovels to extinguish the stubborn flames a disaster there burning our country this was a virgin forest and they burned it it’s so sad not only is the forest gone here the animals are suffering somebody left this donkey when fleeing the area neighbors are now trying to help this owner left it behind here to die from the fire thousands of animals have already died in these flames in a few weeks the fires may be gone but it’s going to take decades for these hills to heal again dw correspondent barbara vessel filed that report and she joins us now from athens barbara good to see you another night of battling fires how are people coping where you are people are getting increasingly angry and they are really battling i mean i’ve never seen so many volunteers out whole neighborhoods have come out everybody who can carry a hose or a shovel or a hoe is trying to climb up on those hillsides and sort of extinguish the fires they’re really stubborn because the the forest floor has burned and there is so much burnable material there that it just comes up again and and just rekindles all the time as we have seen and it is really desperate and the more people fight the more angry and of course the more sad they get it is a really difficult situation overall it has become a bit better because the government has doubled the number of firefighters in the area from 400 to 800 and they have during the day yesterday made a big difference they have brought the fires under control at least so they’re not raging anymore sort of and jumping into new neighborhoods they’re keeping the flames in place but still it’s not over yet it’s still ongoing particularly in other parts of the green main greek mainland where in one area 70 percent of the forest and of the whole area has burned down people there are in utter despair you mentioned barbara in your report earlier that the aftermath of the wildfires is already talk of how to rebuild of course it is i mean the the prime minister mitsutakis he has been keen to go on television a lot trying to send out consoling messages telling people he feels muslim and he also promised yesterday that he would replant all those forests around essence which are really so important for the ecological survival of this huge built up city but that is a promise easily made and very difficult to really implement because how are you these are decades-old forests those are indigenous forests replant the trees it’s going to take 20 years at least till something can grow again plus people we talked to on those hills said what will happen in the winter once the rains come is that we will have the most horrible landslides because all the soil is going to come jump in you know falling down those hills so one catastrophe might follow on the other barbara thank you very much dw correspondent barbara vessel in athens now while parts of greece continue to burn other parts of southern europe the mediterranean and russia are also battling blazes fires in turkey have claimed at least eight lives meanwhile hundreds of fires are burning in kosovo places in north macedonia have forced the government to declare a state of emergency there and fires in albania have threatened homes wildfires in siberia and russia’s far east are still burning several weeks after they ignited their dozens of villages have been evacuated you
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Wildfires in Greece: Could authorities have acted sooner? | DW News

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