Anger after yacht fireworks spark blaze in Hydra

Thirteen people have been arrested following a forest fire on the Greek island of Hydra, that authorities say was sparked by fireworks launched from a yacht.

Friday’s blaze burnt through the only pine forest on the renowned tourist island, which lies south of Athens, officials wrote on Facebook.

It has now been brought under control, but with difficulty. As there are no roads to the beach, firefighters had to access it by sea, while helicopters dropped water from the air.

In a statement on Saturday, the Greek fire service said all 13 people were Greek citizens and would appear before prosecutors on Sunday. The statement did not mention the yacht.

The cause of the fire has prompted outrage in Greece, which is already battling several wildfires and is in the grip of its first heatwave of the year.

“We are indignant that some people so irresponsibly throw fireworks into a pine forest,” Hydra’s mayor, Giorgos Koukoudakis, told Greek broadcaster ERT.

There has also been condemnation on social media: “Rich people with more money than brains,” wrote one person.

Greece has been on high alert for wildfires since Tuesday, and authorities are bracing for a difficult summer as dry conditions, strong winds and high temperatures are set to continue.

On Friday, a 55-year-old volunteer firefighter died from injuries he sustained battling a fire in the southern region of Ilia on the Peloponnese peninsula.

Summer wildfires are common in Greece and scientists have linked the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, to climate change.

But the country also has a problem with arsonists – at least 79 people were arrested last August over deadly wildfires.

Earlier this year, Greece brought in tougher arsonist laws, with perpetrators facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to €200,000 (£169,000; $213,850).

Source link