Seven killed by wildfires sweeping Greece

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Thousands of firefighters, army conscripts and civilian volunteers battled to keep deadly wildfires under control yesterday, as three Greek regions remained in a state of emergency, authorities said.

Thousands of firefighters, army conscripts and civilian volunteers battled to keep deadly wildfires under control yesterday, as three Greek regions remained in a state of emergency, authorities said.

Seven people were burned alive or suffocated and dozens of houses were razed this week as gale-force winds drove blazes across rugged areas of rural Greece.

A blaze at the Menalos mountains, about 115 miles south-west of Athens, was burning out of control yesterdaywhile five other major fires had been contained, the fire service said.

About 200 fires broke out on Thursday and Friday, adding to the record destruction of Greek forests this year.

"It is like a wartime operation," said Public Order Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis.

On the island of Corfu, several villages were evacuated early yesterday before the flames were beaten back. Seven firemen were hospitalised on the island with breathing problems.

A state of emergency was declared on Corfu as well as at an area near the Albanian border and in the southern Arcadia region, the scenes of this week's worst destruction.

Police said a 54-year-old man had been arrested on the island of Cephalonia, accused of setting fires deliberately.

In north-eastern Greece, a fire crossed from neighbouring Bulgaria into a remote mountain forest, authorities said.

A drop in strong winds has helped firefighters contain the major blazes but authorities fear the gales may return.

"The danger is that the fires will rekindle," said Defence Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos.

Greece had its worst fire season in decades this summer. Helped by successive heat waves and strong winds, fires have blackened up to 370,500 acres of forest.

* Four houses were destroyed and dozens evacuated as a series of wildfires broke out on Montenegro's Adriatic coastline early yesterday. No one was injured.

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