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Rhodes six-day blaze finally tamed

Latest update : 2008-07-27

A fire that ravaged the Greek island of Rhodes has been tamed six days after it started. The blaze destroyed 10,000 acres of forest and around 1,000 tourists were evacuated, as villagers expressed their anger against Greek authorities.

Greek fire-fighters on Sunday tamed a six-day-old blaze on the holiday island of Rhodes that destroyed thousands of acres of pristine forest and forced the evacuation of villagers and tourists.

More than 200 fire-fighters joined 100 soldiers, 300 civil protection members and volunteers to battle the inferno that destroyed at least 10,000 acres of forest on the Aegean island off the coast of Turkey, officials said.

"The forest fires are now under control, but we are still on alert in case another front opens up suddenly," a fire brigade official who declined to be named told Reuters. "There have been no reports of any injuries.

At the height of the blaze France, Italy, Cyprus and the European Union sent equipment and planes to assist 10 fire-fighting planes and seven helicopters sent to the fronts by Greek authorities.

The Rhodes fire was the worst and latest of more than 100 wildfires ravaging Greece this summer and reawakened memories of a 10-day inferno last year that killed 65 people and led the country into a state of emergency.

Some hotels near the fires evacuated tourists as precautionary measures on Friday, but they were returned to their hotels on Saturday and Sunday and there were no reports of cancellations.

"We evacuated about 1,000 tourists because of the amount of smoke in the vicinity, at no point in time was anyone in danger," Spyros Efstathopoulos, general secretary of Greece's tourism ministry told reporters.

"There are currently about 100,000 tourists on Rhodes right now and no hotel has reported to us that they have had cancellations," Efstathopoulos said. "Everyone is getting on with their holidays."

Date created : 2008-07-27

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