July 17, 2024

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Forest fires in Greece: Outrage after fireworks on yacht spark fire at Hydra

Forest fires in Greece: Outrage after fireworks on yacht spark fire at Hydra

Image source, Facebook/epoxikoipirosvestes

Comment on the photo, Firefighters shared this photo, but did not confirm that it was of the luxury yacht allegedly involved in the accident

  • author, Tiffany Wertheimer and Danny Eberhard
  • Role, BBC News

Greek authorities arrested 13 people after a fire broke out in a forest on the Greek island of Hydra, which authorities claim was caused by fireworks launched from a luxury yacht.

Greek Climate Crisis Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that Friday’s fire consumed 300 acres of the only pine forest on the famous tourist island, which is located south of Athens.

The fire was controlled, but with difficulty. Since there were no roads leading to the beach, firefighters had to reach it by sea, while helicopters dropped water from the air.

Greek media reported that all those detained were crew members of the luxury yacht Persephone. It is available for summer charter from €249,000 per week (£211,200; $269,300), according to several online superyacht dealers.

Kikilias was quoted as saying that the public prosecutor had requested the confiscation of the ship.

Several local media outlets, citing court documents, reported that the yacht’s visitors were 17 Kazakh nationals who have since left Greece, but the BBC has been unable to independently verify this.

On Sunday morning, the crew was photographed entering the public prosecutor’s office in Piraeus, wearing identical work uniforms and covering their faces with sunglasses, masks and hats.

While fire officials are relying on the statement of the captain of a nearby ship, who allegedly saw flares or fireworks being launched from Persephone, the Coast Guard says there is no evidence of that, local media reported.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Amid a heatwave, Greek firefighters are battling several fires across the country, including a blaze in Kitsi, south of Athens.

The alleged cause of the fire sparked anger in Greece, which is already battling several forest fires and experiencing its first heat wave this year.

“We are angry that some people irresponsibly threw fireworks into a pine forest,” Hydra Mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis told Greek radio ERT on Saturday.

There were also condemnations on social media: “Rich people have more money than brains,” one person wrote.

Greece has been on high alert in anticipation of forest fires since Tuesday, and authorities are preparing for a difficult summer with continued dry conditions, strong winds and high temperatures.

A 55-year-old volunteer firefighter died on Friday from injuries sustained while fighting a fire in the southern Ilia region on the Peloponnese peninsula.

Summer forest fires are common in Greece, and scientists have linked the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including heat waves, to climate change.

But the country also has a problem with arsonists, with at least 79 people arrested last August over deadly bushfires.

Earlier this year, Greece imposed stricter arson laws, with perpetrators facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to €200,000.