Greek police carry out arson arrests amid deadly wildfires
By Linda Bordoni
Nineteen people, believed to be migrants, burnt to death in a forest near the Evros region in northeastern Greece earlier this week and a shepherd lost his life in fires in the Boetia region.
Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters across Greece continue to battle wildfires. Some are raging in a forest near Athens where there have been several attempts by arsonists to start new fires on Mount Parnitha, northwest of the capital.
A government spokesman said that of 140 wildfire-related arrests, 79 were related to arson. He said police and Greek intelligence services are investigating the incidents.
The criminal activities, high temperatures and strong winds are reportedly causing what the EU-backed Copernicus Climate Change Service said was the largest recorded wildfire on European soil in years.
While summer wildfires are common in Greece, the government says conditions, which scientists link to climate change and bad management of the vegetation, have made them more intense this year.
The fire in Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece, has forced hundreds of people to flee their homes and hospital patients were briefly evacuated onto a ferry.
Just last month, thousands of people were forced to flee fires on the Greek island of Rhodes after wildfires broke out there.
The Greek civil protection minister said the country is going through the worst summer since fire-risk maps were introduced in 2009.
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