Anger after yacht fireworks spark blaze

Fireworks launched from a yacht in Greece sparked a forest fire on the island of Hydra on Friday, the local firefighting authority has said.

The blaze burnt the only pine forest on the tourist island, which lies south of Athens, the authority wrote on Facebook.

It has now been brought under control, but with difficulty. As there are no roads to the beach, firefighters had to access it by sea, while helicopters dropped water from the air.

The cause of the fire has prompted outrage in Greece, which is already battling several wildfires and is in the grip of its first heatwave of the year.

“We are indignant that some people so irresponsibly throw fireworks into a pine forest,” Hydra’s mayor, Giorgos Koukoudakis, told Greek broadcaster ERT.

He added that the city would seek to take legal action against those on the yacht.

There has also been condemnation on social media – “rich people with more money than brains”, wrote one person.

Greece has been on high alert for wildfires since Tuesday, and authorities are bracing for a difficult summer as dry conditions, strong winds and high temperatures are set to continue.

On Friday, a 55-year-old volunteer firefighter died from injuries he sustained battling a fire in the southern region of Ilia on the Peloponnese peninsula.

Summer wildfires are common in Greece and scientists have linked the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, to climate change.

But the country also has a problem with arsonists – at least 79 people were arrested last August over deadly wildfires.

Earlier this year, Greece brought in tougher arsonist laws, with perpetrators now facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to €200,000 (£169,000; $213,850).

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