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Russia plans to send additional help to fight fires in Greece

10:00 27/08/2007
ATHENS, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is planning to send additional aircraft to help Greece fight the worst forest fires in its history, the Russian Embassy in Athens said Monday.

Forest fires that swept through Greece over the past three days have reportedly killed at least 60 people and threatened a number of historic and cultural sites, including Ancient Olympia, the site of the original Olympic Games.

According to a Russian Embassy spokesman, Russia has already dispatched a Be-200 firefighting plane, six Mi-26, two Mi-8 and five Ka-32 helicopters to the most affected regions, including the mountains of the Peloponnese in the south and to the island of Evia, north of Athens.

"Russia is studying the possibility of sending additional aircraft in service with the emergencies ministry [to Greece]," Vasily Gavrilov said.

The Greek Foreign Ministry earlier said at total of 12 countries had already sent firefighting aircraft to Greece in the largest European firefighting effort to date.

France has sent four Canadair firefighting planes and a team of 65 firefighters. Spain and Italy have provided two similar planes each, while Serbia has dispatched six special fire-extinguishing planes. Germany, the Netherlands and Israel have allocated three firefighting helicopters each, and Norway and Slovenia are sending one helicopter each.

On Sunday, Austria, joined the firefighting effort sending military aircraft and a team of 20 firefighters. Switzerland is dispatching four Superpuma helicopters and Portugal will send a firefighting plane.

Greek authorities said they suspected that many fires have been caused by arson, and have so far arrested six suspects on related charges.

The government has also offered a reward of up $1.4 million for anyone providing information that would lead to the arrest of two other suspected arsonists who were photographed by an Athens resident with a mobile phone camera.

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RIA NovostiRussia plans to send additional help to fight fires in Greece

10:00 27/08/2007 Russia is planning to send additional aircraft to help Greece fight the worst forest fires in its history, the Russian Embassy in Athens said Monday. >>

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