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13 People Have Been Arrested for Starting a Forest Fire in Greece From Their Superyacht

Fireworks allegedly launched from "Persefoni I" sparked a blaze that destroyed part of Hydra's only pine forest.

  • Jun 24 2024
  • 145
13 People Have Been Arrested for Starting a Forest Fire in Greece From Their Superyacht
13 People Have Been Arrested f

A celebratory occasion at sea may have caused mass devastation in Greece.

Thirteen crew members and passengers have been arrested after allegedly starting a forest fire on the island of Hydra on Friday night by launching fireworks from the 177-foot Persefoni I.

All 13 seafarers were brought before a Greek public prosecutor at the criminal court in Piraeus on Sunday to answer charges of igniting the blaze, as reported by The Guardian. “The prosecutor has requested that the vessel in question be seized,” the country’s minister of climate crisis and civil protection Vasilis Kikilias said. “It remains to be seen from [their] testimonies what they did, and didn’t, do.”

The wildfire began at around 11:20 p.m. on Friday and destroyed approximately 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of the island’s only pine forest, according to Kikilias. The blaze was eventually extinguished by firefighters on Saturday. “Six airplanes and two teams of firefighters, who had to be absent from dealing with other fires and services, were required to put it out,” the minister explained.

Soaring temperatures in Greece are taking a serious toll on emergency services, with the extreme weather conditions of recent days resulting in multiple fires across the Mediterranean country. Greece’s civil protection service called for extreme vigilance on Friday because the risk of fires was “very high.” Hydra’s mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis has also said that fireworks were prohibited that night due to strong winds.

Persefoni I, which can accommodate up to 10 guests in six staterooms and 11 crew, costs about $320,500 (€299,000) a week to charter in the high season. Media reports have described the passengers aboard the superyacht as Kazakh citizens, while the nationality of the crew members remains unclear. All 13 accused were given 48 hours on Sunday to prepare defense statements, with the prosecutor requesting they reappear in court this week.

Those found guilty of arson and ecological destruction in Greece face prison terms of up to 20 years and fines of up to $215,000 (€200,000). Koukoudakis also said the island would seek compensation once the judicial process concluded. “Depending on the outcome, our town hall will seek compensation,” he said. “What was destroyed was absolutely beautiful pine forest and on the night in question, because of the winds, fireworks were banned. To use them was utterly irresponsible.”


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