[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Firefighters 'quell Greek blazes'
A man pulls a plough from ruins in the village of Xirochori, near Zacharo, West Peloponnese 28 August 2007
The government has vowed to get aid to fire victims quickly
Firefighters have beaten back most of the major fires ravaging the Greek countryside, officials say.

Blazes continue to rage in the gutted Peloponnese region and Evia island, but emergency crews say they are "generally receding" and have been contained.

The government has called for national unity, but faces growing anger at its handling of the crisis, with crowds due to gather in Athens later to protest.

At least 63 people have died in the blazes since Friday.

Fire service official spokesman Nikolaos Diamantis said the danger was not yet over, and firefighting equipment would remain in place throughout the country.

I've been coming here for the last 15 years on holiday with my children. It was a paradise here and now it is hell
Fire survivor

But he was upbeat in his assessment of the current blazes, saying: "We are optimistic about the outcome of our fight against the fires.

"They are now limited and there is no danger of them spreading."

It is feared that the hot, dry winds that have help to spread the flames from region to region could return and rekindle the fires.

Many of the communities devastated over the weekend are just starting to count the cost.

In the tiny village of Frixa on the Peloponnesian peninsula, acrid smoke continued to swirl around the charred olive groves and farmland.

Satellite images show how the spread of the fires is changing

"Everything we had has gone. We had oil, we lived off the olives. Its all gone," 77-year-old Athanassia Kazakopoulou told Reuters news agency.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has pledged to act fast in restoring power to devastated villages and rebuilding houses.

His government has also started to give out instant compensation to those affected.

A general election, planned for 16 September, has helped to politicise the crisis, with the opposition Socialist Party being heavily critical of the government.

I spent Saturday night on the roof of my house watching a fire steadily progressing down the mountain towards us
Patience
BBC News website reader in Kalamata

The Socialists described the handling of the crisis as a "national humiliation".

The authorities believe some of the fires were started deliberately, and more than 30 people have been arrested so far.

A 1m euro (680,000) reward has been offered to help catch those responsible.

There have been 120 major forest fires this year, compared with just 52 in of 2006.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The devastation caused by forest fires in Greece





FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific