Firecrackers from the yacht set fire to Hydra, the Greek jewel island. Thirteen arrests made


By John

Hydra is the Greek jewel island not far from Athens, loved by VIPs and artists such as Leonard Cohen, where there aren’t even cars to worry residents and visitors. But on Friday the irresponsible gesture of a group of tourists who had seen fit to launch fireworks from their yacht towards the shore risked triggering a fire of vast proportions like those which have devastated vast areas in Greece in recent years, with dozens of deaths. In the last week alone there has been one death due to the fires, which often have malicious origins. The Hellenic authorities have 13 people arrested, suspected of the act which incinerated an area of ​​what is defined by the firefighters as “the only pine forest on the island”.

According to Kathimerini, the vessel, identified as Persefoni I, had then left the coasts of Hydra, docking on Saturday afternoon at the Agios Kosmas marina in Athens. Shortly thereafter, the 13 people were arrested. The firefighters, having learned that the fire had been caused by fireworks launched from a boat, asked the coast guard for the coordinates and details of all the boats that were near Hydra on Friday night, as well as any videos. The testimony of the captain of a nearby ship who witnessed the accident would have been fundamental. A gesture that provoked the indignation of the locals and the mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis, who promised legal action against those responsible, demanding exemplary punishments. The flames were put out on Saturday afternoon. No details were provided about the suspects (according to rumors they were Greek citizens), who appeared today before a judge in Piraeus for formal indictment.

Greece has toughened penalties for arson, with those responsible now facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to 200,000 euros. Koukoudakis told public broadcaster Ert that authorities should still create more fire zones and roads through Hydra’s forests. For many years, Greece has experienced dramatic seasons marked by fires, aided by wind and very high temperatures. Another fire broke out on Saturday on the island of Andros, emergency services reported: four villages were evacuated and planes and helicopters helped fight the flames.

After the warmest winter ever, last week the country recorded the first scorching heat wave of the year, with temperatures in some places exceeding 44 degrees. Civil protection has called for maximum vigilance because the risk of fires is “very high”, especially in the region of Attica, the Peloponnese peninsula and central Greece. Only last year, a violent heat wave lasting two weeks was followed by devastating fires in which 20 people died. However, the most dramatic toll dates back to 23 July 2018 when a fire engulfed the village of Mati, (part of the municipality of Marathon, northeast of Athens) and the nearby town of Kokkino Limanaki, killing 102 people.