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    Wildfires force mass evacuations in Athens suburbs

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    Dozens of homes have been destroyed by wildfires to the north of Athens and thousands of residents have been evacuated, officials said

    MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - Dozens of homes have been destroyed by wildfires to the north of Athens and thousands of residents have been evacuated, officials said on Sunday.

    Thousands of acres of forest have been destroyed by the fires since Friday night, but no casualties have been reported.

    "The situation is tragic. Fires are out of control on many fronts," the Associated Press quoted greater Athens local governor Yiannis Sgouros as saying. "Athens had an area of greenery that now has gone."

    The fire, fanned by strong winds, has caused a large cloud of black smoke to spread over the capital. The most severely effected suburbs have been Drafi, Pallini, Pendeli, and Pikermi.

    The Greek government has requested urgent international help to bring the blaze under control. Officials say firefighting aircraft have already been sent from France, Italy and Cyprus.

    In 2007, fires that raged for 10 days on Greece's Peloponnese Peninsula claimed 65 lives.

     

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