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Cyprus steps up fire assistance to Greece August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Greece News.
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Cyprus rolled up its sleeves, sending men and materials to fire-ravaged Greece, as the neighbouring country issued a desperate plea for help.

With the death toll rising to 63, and a total of 32 fires still raging yesterday, the Greek government has declared a state of national emergency. Due to the frequency of the outbreaks, authorities suspect foul play in a number of cases, and several people have been arrested on suspicion of arson, as the Counter-Terrorism Squad has launched its own investigation. The Greek government meanwhile is offering a reward of up to one million euros for information leading to the capture of arsonists.

A number of mountain communities are still trapped by the fires, and dozens of people from the village of Vouliagmeni, Ilia province, are reported missing. Tens of villages have been literally wiped off the map, hundreds of houses burned, and thousands of people made refugees in their own country.

Late on Sunday night, two C-130 transport planes flew out of Andreas Papandreou military base in Paphos, Cyprus to Greece. They were carrying 30 firemen and around 20 search and rescue personnel. The second team of Cypriot firefighters are to be deployed to the village of Andritsena on the Peloponnese peninsula. That brings the total size of the Cypriot manpower to 145. In addition, the Cypriot Fire Department has sent 10 fire engines. The first group of firemen flew out to Greece on Saturday. They were dispatched to the village of Aliveri, playing a key role in extinguishing the flames there.

According to Giorgos Patichis, a spokesman for the second team of volunteers, “lots more were eager to go, but unfortunately the planes could only carry so many people.”
He said his unit had assembled in “record time”, and was ready to go within an hour of getting the call. 

In a televised address to the Cypriot public, President Tassos Papadopoulos, who has been in touch with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Greek counterpart, head of state Karolos Papoulias, voiced sympathy with the “afflicted Greek people”.

“I ask all individuals or groups taking part in fundraising to be extra generous,” Papadopoulos said. “We express our grief at the loss of life, and we assure the people of Greece that we are there for them. Our thoughts go out to them.”

And Archbishop Chrysostomos, who said the Church would begin its own fundraiser, said neighbouring Greece faced a “national calamity”, and urged Cypriots to “contribute from the heart”. “It is our Christian and national duty to yet again demonstrate our love for the motherland and our Greek brothers,” the Prelate said.

Cyprus extends aid to Greece August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Greece News.
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Cyprus to reconstruct destroyed community in Greece > Cyprus will symbolically take over the reconstruction of one community destroyed by the forest fires that have been raging across Greece for the past few days, President Tassos Papadopoulos announced on Monday.

The government’s contribution would include rebuilding homes and infrastructure, and regenerating sources of income for the community, which would be designated by the Greek government.

President Papadopoulos called on people “to contribute whatever they can with generosity and love and solidarity with the people of Greece to bank accounts to be opened in all banks of Cyprus, and that will operate under the supervision of the government.” He added that “Cyprus Hellenism shares the anguish and pain of the distressed people and expresses its practical solidarity and support for the brotherly Greek people.”

“Our pledge towards the Greek government is that Cyprus will provide everything Greece asks for and Cyprus can offer. For this reason, we participate with volunteers and skilled firemen, over 100 up to now, with fire engines and anti-fire equipment which Cyprus has at its disposal.”

Cyprus stands by Greece August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Cyprus is also on a state of emergency to assist Greeks in the Greek mainland, with aid being sent in the forms of firemen, volunteers and other personnel, financial assistance and food among other aid.

“Cypriot Hellenism is obliged to help Greece in this time of need” the Republic of Cyprus press spokesman Athos Lykourgis stated on Alpha Radio Athens. Due to the historic and cultural links between Greece and Cyprus, the Government of Cyprus has decided to rebuild one of the villages destroyed by the fires, and to deliver the houses completely furnished. The village to be rebuild, will be chosen by the  Greek Government. In practical terms a village will be rebuilt to its former glory with funds from the Republic of Cyprus.

More than 170 firemen, 6 vehicles and many volunteers from Cyprus have also arrived in  Greece since Sunday, to assist as well as to offer their expertise in the areas most affected, such as in Aliveri in Evia and Andritsena in the Peloponesse.

The Government of Cyprus, the Church of Cyprus and other institutions and humanitarian organisations made financial donations and urged Cypriots to participate to the fund raising campaign. So far, more than five million euros have been collected.

PHOTOS: SAVING GREECE FROM FLAMES August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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PHOTOS: SAVING GREECE FROM FLAMES

See the pictures at >

ABC News

In Greece, Wine Saves Life; a Mother’s Arms Do Not August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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In Artemida and here in Makistos, the flames were already out, and Monday was instead a day for tallying the damage and preparing to bury the dead.

“What is there to say?” asked Efstathios Alexandropoulos in the hilltop cemetery in Artemida. With a small crew of helpers, he and a brother were laying the concrete blocks for a single crypt to hold his son, Phillipos, 6; a niece, Ioanna, also 6; and his mother, also named Ioanna.

Up the hill, workers were preparing the grave for Athanasia Karta-Paraskevopoulou, a 35-year-old teacher, and the four children she shielded as the flames closed in on them: Angeliki, 15; Maria, 12; Anastassia, about 10; and Constantinos, 5. They had been on vacation from Athens.

“Before you could say ‘fire,’ it was here,” Vassiliki Bammi, 62, a resident of Artemida, said in the leveled town square.

The descriptions from people who saw it were the same: flames moving at an unimaginable rate and no one apart from the police to help.

fires_site.jpg  The site of a tragic accident near Makistos, Greece, where a mother and her four children perished trying to flee the fires.

Read this article at > The New York Times

Foreign crews fly in to aid Greek firefighters August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Foreign countries have pledged to send aid and firefighting aircraft to Greece as the worst fires in living memory continue to wreak havoc arcoss country.

Firefighting aircraft from France, Italy and Canada have joined Greek soldiers and firemen battling the towering flames which have left thousands homeless and threatened some of antiquity’s most famous sites.

Cyprus rushed more firefighters to Greece on Monday and promised aid with reconstruction after the infernos amid an outpouring of sympathy among Greek Cypriots.

On Sunday firefighters managed to halt the advance of one fire which threatened to consume Olympia, a UNESCO world heritage site and home of the original Olympic Games.

Olympia: the holiest sanctuary of Greece > Revered as the holiest sanctuary of ancient Greece, Olympia is a UNESCO world heritage site which has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The area, in the Peloponnese peninsula, became a centre for the worship of Zeus in the 10th century BC. In addition to temples, it contains the remains of structures erected for the Olympic Games, held there for more than 1,000 years after their start in 776 BC.

Richard Chandler, an English antiquarian, is credited with re-discovering the site in 1766 when most of Olympia lay under 10ft of mud, although excavations were not carried out until 1829. Since then, the remains of a gymnasium, bathhouses, priests’ residences and altars have been uncovered.

Read this article at > The Telegraph

To view a Video > click here

fires_map.jpg [right-click on the thumbnail to view a larger image]

Back on the road again, hope dies last August 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Editorial, Greece News.
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Dear Friends,

Hello again from Athens, Greece, we are back from our summer vacations, and will try to catch up with the latest news coverage.

Unfortunately, as you may have already learnt, the news from the Greek front are not the best ones to talk about. You have read them in your local newspapers, you have watched them in your local TV coverage, its all about the National tragedy and the wild fires started last Friday and which are still burning in some areas of the country.

Now, still burning for the fifth day, the results so far are not the best ones you could wished for your worst enemy:

  • 63 people lost their lives, and still counting
  • whole villages, especially in the Peloponesse and in Evia, completely destroyed
  • thousands of people are left homeless
  • forests, some of the most beautiful ones, completely burnt
  • everywhere you can see ashes and ashes only
  • environment, nature and the ecosystem badly hitten
  • economy, including agriculture and tourism, collapsed in the areas destroyed by the fires, value estimated at 40 billion euros and more
  • people are still considered missing and we fear that when found, will be dead

It’s a modern Greek tragedy with the chorus

dressed in black, mourning.

The picture of a mother and her four children, all

burnt during their attempt to be saved from the

wild fires, is becoming a symbol for us. A symbol of

hope, a symbol of unity, a symbol to shout

“No more innocent victims”.

Hope dies last.

Greece, will be born again from its ashes.