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Greek PM announces immediate relief worth 500mln€ for wildfire-striken residents, promises forest restoration; offers self-criticism

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced his government’s primary axes for restoring wildfire-ravaged regions in southern Greece as well as immediate relief for stricken residents, speaking in yet another nationally televised address on Monday afternoon – and amid shock and anger in the country over the scale and speed of the natural disaster.  

Mitsotakis announced an emergency assistance program, totalling 500 million in the first phase, followed by a moderate dose of self-criticism.

The opposition and numerous fire-stricken residents, particularly in northern and previously verdant Evia island, charged a slow reaction by the state apparatus. One vociferous allegation is that fire-fighter resources were mainly targetted at the wildfire fronts northwest and north of Athens proper instead of the blaze that initially began in a corner of northwest Evia (Euboea).

Conversely, the scores of wildfires, many breaking out at the same time in roughly the same general location over the past week, generated the first suspicions of an organized plan of arson, or, arsonists taking advantage of the advent of the first fires. A handful of arrests have been made, with at least two suspects charged with felony counts of arson.

At the same time, Mitsotakis apologized to citizens for “whatever weaknesses transpired … mistakes will be identified and  responsibilities will be placed whenever and on whoever they must.”