Dozens of people have been arrested in Greece for allegedly starting the rampant fires that have claimed at least 20 lives so far, with rising allegations that the fires were started by ‘eco warriors’ in an attempt to have the public falsely blame global warming.
With Tenerife now confirming that devastating fires were intentionally caused by arsonists and not by global warming, yesterday Greece launched an official investigation to determine if fires across the country had unnatural causes.
209 fires broke out in Greece in just three days, with the largest still burning just outside the city of Alexandroupolis, near the border with Turkey.
18 bodies, believed to be migrants, were found by firefighters in a forest on Tuesday.
One other person was found dead in Northern Greece on Monday, while another died in a separate blaze in central Greece.
The country’s second biggest blaze still rages on northwest of Athens and has destroyed multiple homes.
Dozens of villages in the northeast region have been evacuated, and European countries continue to send aid.
The exact cause of the fires remains unclear, but Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutor Georgia Adilini confirmed that his country launched an investigation into whether organised arson groups were operating in the region, with some claiming that such a group could be ‘eco-warrior’ protestors trying to force debate.
Today, no less than 79 suspects have been arrested.
“You are committing a crime against the country,” said Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias shortly after the arrests.
“Arsonist scum are setting fires that threaten forests, property and, most of all, human lives. You will not get away with it, we will find you, you will be held accountable.”
Police and Greek intelligence service EYP are investigating the incidents, AFP reported.
While Greece suffers from naturally-caused wildfires every year – said to have increased annually due to global warming – there has been a suspicious and significantly abnormal rise this year.
Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis told Greek public broadcaster ERT that of 140 wildfire-related arrests, 79 were related to arson, with an individual now believed to have been arrested for each individual fire started deliberately.