EU to send more than 200 firefighters to Greece for the summer season

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FILE PHOTO: Wildfire in the village of Vilia

ATHENS (Reuters) - More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Norway will be stationed in Greece to provide immediate support in the event of major wildfires during the summer, the European Commission said on Thursday.

A spate of wildfires scorched about 300,000 acres of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece last summer, amid the country's worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities as part of its battle to tackle global warming.

"In August 2021, Greece witnessed about 65 simultaneous forest fires per day with average temperatures often exceeding 40℃ ", the EU's Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.

"Together with the Greek authorities we have therefore agreed the stand-by presence of more than 200 highly skilled firefighters from across our continent to support national first responders when fires break out," he added.

The assistance, financed and coordinated under the EU's civil protection mechanism, will come on top of firefighting aircraft available to European Union countries under the bloc's reserve of resources.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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