ATHENS — "Greece is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis with multiple large fires in many parts of the country as a result of a heatwave that is entering its second week," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday after visiting fire-stricken regions in Ilia.
The prime minister once again thanked the women and men of the fire brigade and volunteers, as well as civilians in Ilia that joined in the battle and worked with state forces to contain the destructive fire and mitigate its impact.
"A big thank you to the women and men that fought to protect the site of Olympia with its towering global symbolism," Mitsotakis said, adding: "The fight is continuing. We still have active fronts and tomorrow we expect another difficult day as we expect to have stronger winds."
"We are doing the best possible. I want to also say that I fully understand the anger, the rage, the anguish of the citizens who have seen their properties destroyed," he said. "Unfortunately, even though we have more fire-fighting aircraft per head than any other country, it is impossible for these to be available in all areas of the country at any given moment," the prime minister added.
He explained that the aircraft were distributed based on certain criteria and based on the instructions of the fire brigade's central coordinating body, which had a more comprehensive picture of the dangers posed by each fire.
Mitsotakis underlined the importance of organised evacuations to protect the most valuable asset, which was human life, emphasising the need to cooperate. "When an evacuation is carried out, this is for the good of the citizens, to protect their lives," he said, while stressing that the state will be at the side of those harmed by the fires when the time comes.
"We now have a legislated framework for state assistance, which means that all the citizens that saw their homes destroyed will be compensated so they can be restored and our farmers will also be compensated for their crops and damaged trees."
"We have proved that we are fast and efficient in compensating the citizens," he said.
He concluded by stressing that anyone doubting the reality of climate change "can come see for themselves" and said the country has secured two billion euros in European funds for the largest civil defence programme though the focus was now on the "very urgent situation before us."