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Wildfires break out on Athens outskirts

FIREFIGHTERS battled two wildfires on the outskirts of Athens yesterday, as warnings were issued for large parts of the country following a weekend heat wave, the Fire Service said.

Three water-dropping planes and two helicopters aided more that 150 firefighters after fires broke out yesterday at the Aspropyrgos and Ano Liosia areas northwest of the capital, fanned by strong winds.

Authorities closed sections of an Athens highway, disrupting traffic between Athens and the city's international airport, operators of the toll-road said.

The fires posed no immediate threat to homes, the Fire Service said.

It had issued warnings for greater Athens, other eastern parts of the country, and the island of Crete, after temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius in parts of the country over the weekend.

Greece earlier this month introduced wide-ranging firefighting measures, including tougher penalties for arsonists and broader powers to evacuate fire-stricken areas. Massive blazes in southern Greece two years ago killed more than 70 people.

A fire was also reported yesterday on the island of Zakynthos and a helicopter was fighting the flames in northern parts of the island.

A separate fire on Zakynthos on Sunday damaged a nature reserve and prompted the coast guard to evacuate 70 people from a beach cut off by the blaze.


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