Yacht crew trial to begin Wednesday after wildfire caused by fireworks

Yacht crew trial to begin Wednesday after wildfire caused by fireworks
Yacht crew trial to begin Wednesday after wildfire caused by fireworks

The sailors were interviewed on Sunday by the prosecutor of Piraeus, south of Athens, who decided to take legal action against them. They will appear in court on Wednesday, ERT said. During their hearing, the 13 members denied the accusations, according to the same source. The 17 passengers on the yacht, originally from Kazakhstan, are not being prosecuted.

On Saturday, the island’s firefighters posted a photo of the burning pine forest on Facebook with the caption: “The fire, caused by fireworks from a boat, burns the only pine forest on the island, in a place that is difficult to access and has no roads.

The captain of a neighboring ship who witnessed the fireworks was also interviewed by the prosecutor, according to ERT. The firefighters’ publication sparked anger on social networks and on the island of Hydra.

The mayor, Giorgos Koukoudakis, said on Saturday he was “outraged” on ERT, and specified that “the municipality would file a civil suit against those responsible for the fire as soon as the preliminary investigation was completed.” The fire was brought under control quickly on Saturday but according to civil protection thirty hectares of a pine forest, the only one still preserved on the island, burned.

“Very high risk”

Greece recently toughened penalties for arson. The perpetrators of the fires can now be sentenced to up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 euros. Since Wednesday, authorities have continued to warn of the “very high risk” of forest fire due to strong winds and high temperatures which in some regions have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

No stranger to heat waves, Greece has been preparing for weeks for a particularly difficult summer in terms of heatwaves and forest fires after having suffered the hottest winter in its history.

The Mediterranean country went through its first heatwave last week with temperatures locally reaching more than 44°C. It had already experienced devastating fires causing more than twenty deaths and a two-week heatwave of more than 40°C, unprecedented in its duration, in 2023.

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