Greek authorities call for decongesting refugee camp after deadly fire

2016-11-25 15:59:38 GMT2016-11-25 23:59:38(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

MYTILENE, Greece, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Greek authorities on Friday called for decongesting refugee camps in the wake of a deadly fire which broke out at Moria refugee hotspot on Lesvos island on Thursday.

The fire resulted in the deaths of two refugees. A 60-year-old Kurdish woman from Iraq and her 6-year-old grandson died inside their tent when it caught fire from a cooking gas canister, according to the local fire brigade.

Another 25-year-old woman and her son, who were in an adjacent tent, are hospitalized in critical condition with extensive burns. They were transferred by a special aircraft to Athens on early Friday, according to the National Centre of Health Operations.

Twenty large tents, 110 smaller ones and two containers were damaged before firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze.

"It is tragic when two souls are lost in such vain," Nikos Trakellis, official of Moria village, told Xinhua on Friday.

Following the tragedy, he underlined the request islanders have made numerous times in recent months to the central government to decongest Moria and Lesvos.

"The camp hosts a lot more people than it can actually accommodate. There is need for immediate decongestion," Trakellis stressed.

According to the latest official data released by Greek authorities on Friday, there are about 6,300 people living in overcrowded centers on Lesvos which have capacity to host 3,500 people.

Under the EU-Turkey agreement launched in March to stem the refugee influx, newcomers are stranded on islands and not transferred to the mainland until their asylum bids are assessed.

Refugees have protested several times over the living conditions at the hotspots. After the latest tragedy despair is widespread.

"We will all die here in this camp," Nilamb, a refugee girl, told Xinhua on Friday when asked what she would like to do when she grows up.

"I have never seen such chaos, I was feeling like I was in a war zone," Kostas Soropos, a stretcher bearer at the Mytilene hospital, said.

"The atmosphere was sultry, nobody knew where the injured were," he said.

Apart from the victims and the two seriously injured refugees, several pregnant women and people with respiratory problems and panic attacks were transferred to the hospital.

Hundreds of refugees evacuated the camp, looking for shelter during the night.

Early Friday, some returned to search in the ashes to salvage their belongings.