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Greece: Emergency apparatus on alert ahead of storm Elias, says minister

The state’s emergency apparatus is on high alert ahead of the onset of storm Elias, Climate Change and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias has said.

The fire service, the Special Disaster Response Unit (EMAK), armed forces, police and the Thessaly Regional Authority are all on high alert, added Kikilias, speaking at the civil protection coordination center in the central Greek city of Larissa.

More than 1,600 police officers, 2 army platoons, 70 EMAK personnel and more than 110 earth machine operators are on standby, he said.

Referring to the impact of the recent storm Daniel on the region of Thessaly, Kikilias said that the regional authority has made tremendous efforts, despite obstacles, “to extend streambeds, working  on bridges, streams and rivers, and in remote, hard-to-reach areas.”

Elaborating on the human resources available ahead of Elias, Fire Service Chief of Operations Lieutenant General Thanassis Balafas said that there are 650 firefighters with 140 fire engines in Thesally. In addition, there are also boats from 4 special disaster units (EMAK) and from 2 forest operations units (EMODE), as well as 3 fire service and 2 army helicopters.

“We have forces situated at three key intersection points so that we can quickly reach all the villages that had to be evacuated last time,” he added.