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FYROM, Turkey Offer Greece Help, Hotline for Missing Set Up

July 25, 2018

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey have joined a list of countries offering aid to Greece after deadly fires killed at least 80 people, with more casualties expected as dozens of peope are still unaccounted for.

FYROM, which under a recent deal with Greece will become North Macedonia once it’s ratified, said it would send 6 million denars (about 100,000 euros) as urgent help. Premier Zoran Zaev said the money would be sent to the Greek ministry overseeing aid and that his government will also set up a body to monitor the situation and coordinate humanitarian assistance.

FYROM’s Foreign Ministry has also issued a recommendation to its citizens to avoid traveling to the regions in the Attica area affected with wildfires.

Turkey offered to send firefighting aircraft and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said airplanes and helicopters were on standby to aid but that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said they weren’t needed as enough help had arrived.

Turkey and Greece are locked in a number of contentious political and foreign policy issues but have set them aside during the fires aftermath.

Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister, in Ankara said the planes are “45 minutes away if there is a request and we are ready to intervene immediately,” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed condolences.

The Greek Fire Service urged people with missing relatives of friends to call the 199 hotline to provide rescuers with their names and descriptions with fears the toll could mount as many people haven’t accounted for and bodies were still being recovered from the sea, burned buildings, and fields.

The European flags at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels were flying at half-mast on July 25 to pay tribute to the victims of the devastating wildfires that hit Greece this week.

“We stand with the Greek people in solidarity at this difficult time,” the Commission said in a tweet. “Our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of these devastating fires that have caused so much suffering.”

Among the victims were a Polish woman and her son, who were with eight other people on a boat that sank as they tried to evacuate a hotel as the fast-spreading fire approached, said Janusz Smigielski of the Grecos travel agency.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has expressed its “deep sorrow” and “agony” for the devastating fires.

“I express my sincere condolences to the people of Greece for this unexpected tragedy. As Greek Orthodox in America, we stand by and with our affected brothers and sisters in Greece and we fervently pray to God for the families impacted by this tragic calamity,” Archbishop Demetrios of America said in a statement.

“We hope that favorable conditions will soon be restored for the return of life and progress in the destroyed areas,” he said.

He also wrote an encyclical to the reverend clergy and the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, asking them to hold a prayer service on July 29 for the health, relief and support of the fire victims, and to offer a special memorial service for those who lost their lives in the fires.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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