Five Dead, Dozens Missing in Greek Forest Fires
KAVALLA, Greece (AP) _ Five people died in the suburbs of this northern Greek city and on the nearby resort island of Thassos in the region’s worst forest fires ever, officials said today.
A 45-year-old electrician died of smoke inhalation while fighting the blaze outside Kavalla. The bodies of two unidentified Belgian tourists and two Greek women were found on Thassos, where a fire swept down to the sea Thursday night, the local police officials said.
The officials said dozens of people were reported missing.
Ferries worked all night to transport tourists from Thassos to Kavalla, the nearest mainland port.
Several thousand people also fled Kavalla early today as the blaze approached outlying districts of the city, setting fire to a hospital, a home for the elderly and five houses, the officials said.
Premier Andreas Papandreou flew by helicopter to the city to oversee firefighting operations led by more than 1,000 troops.
It was not clear how the fires started.
On Thassos, a police spokesman said fire broke out in a pine forest near the village of Potos on Thursday and spread nine miles in two hours, fanned by strong northerly winds.
In the resort area of Halkikidiki, yachts and fishing boats rescued about 60 tourists after fire engulfed a campsite on the Sithonia peninsula, police said.
A fire near the uninhabited summit of the northern Greek mountain of Grammos exploded ammunition dumps and mines left over from the 1946-49 civil war, when communist rebels fought a last stand on the mountain, police in Salonica said.