Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Greek tragedy

I posted a series back in January on the last Aussie bushfire season, and I can't let the Greek wildfire disaster pass without comment.

The loss of life is appalling, nearly seventy so far according to the latest reports, and I dread to think what the final toll will be.

In Australia bushfires are a fact of life, an annual event. With thankfully few exceptions the authorities are prepared, we have equipment such as water-bombing planes & helicopters, we have thousands of volunteer firefighters in the bush fire brigades, highly trained and well equipped. As a general rule people know what to do, how to prepare their homes to minimise the risk, we know the speed the fires can reach and the need to evacuate in time.

None of that seems to have been the case in Greece. From all the reports coming out of the country it seems the authorities were unprepared, the response tardy, people were left to their own devices without understanding what they needed to do.

It seems that many of the fires were deliberately started by arsonists. We get those murderous cretins in Oz too. Penalties have been increased for those convicted but we don't charge them as I've long argued they should be charged, with murder. Or if no-one is killed, with attempted murder.

If the reports out of Athens are correct, Greece is taking a tougher line with a man being charged with arson and murder.

That's a decision I applaud.


i*maginate said...

I like the title you've ascribed to the Greece fires: it certainly is a tragedy. Yes, we are accustomed to reading about the Aussie bushfires, but from memory, they are put out pretty quickly, and yes: due to the well-eqipped firefighters and their experience.

I've never heard of a "wildfire" in Western Europe. It's strange over 20 fires break out in Greece within 48 hours. Obviously arson...my heart goes out to those who suffered, and on the other hand, I wonder why it took so long to put out those fires...

I've never understood how and why such huge fires start but the recent news surely highlights the significance of this whole issue.

Seems to me when something "rare" is reported and casualty figures are realeased, it hits harder when something "common and frequent" happens which one doesn't really pay much attention to. Shame, that.

Seabee said...

i*maginate, most of the Aussie bushfires start naturally by lightning strikes. The bush is so dry that they spread at an amazing speed. And the gum trees are eucalypt so the leaves are full of oil which burns fiercely.

The wind blows sparks ahead of the fire, so new fires start all the time.

Then of course the arsonists come in and start fires deliberately.