Lesbos refugee camp fire forces thousands to evacuate

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The blaze at the overcrowded Moria camp destroyed tents and containers, and forced migrants living there to flee

Reuters-  The  Guardian

People flee the fire at Moria refugee camp in Lesbos. Photograph: Panagiotis Balaskas/AP

Thousands have fled an overcrowded refugee camp after multiple fires gutted much of the site on the Greek island of Lesbos, authorities have said.

There were no reports of injuries after the fire started in the early hours of Wednesday at Moria camp.

The cause of the blaze which burned tents and containers was not immediately clear, a fire brigade official said.

A police official said that migrants had been taken to safety. People were seen leaving the camp, carrying their luggage, witnesses said.

At least 25 firefighters with 10 engines, aided by police, were battling the flames both inside and outside the facility, the fire brigade said, adding that emergency personnel were pushed back by migrants during their efforts to put out the fire.

The Moria facility, which hosts more than 12,000 people – more than four times its stated capacity – has been frequently criticised by aid groups for poor living conditions.

𝙺𝚘𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚜 𝙺𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚛𝚐𝚒𝚜 (@KallergisK)

Absolute destruction at #Moria camp visible with the first ray of light this morning. Approx 12,000 people will have nowhere to sleep tonight, not even the frail tents they used to call home.
Video by @moutafis77 #greece #lesvos #lesbos #migrants #refugeesgr pic.twitter.com/9XUkS1cSk2

September 9, 2020

It was placed under quarantine last week after authorities confirmed that an asylum-seeker had tested positive for the coronavirus. Confirmed infections have risen to 35 since then.

People evacuated from the camp at Moria. Photograph: Panagiotis Balaskas/AP

Lesbos, which lies just off the Turkish coast, was on the front line of a massive movement of refugees and migrants to Europe in 2015-2016. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, since 1 March, all migrants reaching the island have been quarantined away from the camps.

In Moria, aid groups have warned that social distancing and basic hygiene measures are impossible to implement due to the living conditions.

A child died after a fire at the camp in March.

Wildfires fanned by strong winds were also burning in two other areas on the island.

 

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