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Greece has asked Russia to send additional aircraft to fight the country's worst forest fires in decades
Greece has asked Russia to send additional aircraft to fight the country's worst forest fires in decades, which have killed 63 people in the past three days, Russia's Foreign Ministry said. The Russian Embassy in Athens said earlier Russia was considering sending additional emergencies ministry planes to the country. "The Greek side approached Russia with a request to allocate additional aircraft for firefighting," the ministry's information and press department said, commenting on a phone conversation between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. Bakoyannis thanked Russia for its help to date in fire-fighting efforts. The Russian diplomat said the country would consider what options were available for providing further assistance to Greece. Forest fires in the country, which have strengthened in recent days, now threaten several historic and cultural sites, including Ancient Olympia, the site of the original Olympic Games. According to a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Athens, Russia has already dispatched a Be-200 firefighting plane, six Mi-26, two Mi-8 and five Ka-32 helicopters to the worst-hit regions, including the Peloponnese mountain range in the south, and the island of Euboea, to the north of Athens. The Greek Foreign Ministry earlier said a total of 12 countries had sent firefighting aircraft to Greece, in the largest European firefighting effort to date. Greek authorities suspect arson as a cause of the fires, and have so far arrested six suspects. The Greek government has offered a reward of up $1.4 million for information leading to the arrest of two other suspected arsonists, photographed by an Athens resident with a mobile phone camera.
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