25.09.2022

Fire destroys Greece’s largest refugee camp in Lesbos

Thousands of migrants fled a camp under Covid-19 lockdown after multiple fires gutted much of the site on the Greek island of Lesbos, authorities said.

Some 12,500 people were living at the Moria camp and the surrounding area, where additional restrictions have been imposed over the past week after a Somali resident tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The fire spread inside and outside of the camp and has destroyed it. There are more than 12,000 migrants being guarded by police on a highway,” Stratos Kytelis, mayor of the island’s main town, Mylinene, told private Skai radio.

“It is a very difficult situation because some of those who are outside will include people who are positive (for the coronavirus).”

There were no reports of injuries.

The fires broke out overnight, police and fire officials on the island told The Associated Press, adding the cause of the blazes remained unclear.

They did not confirm local reports that the fires had been set deliberately in protest at the lockdown measures but said firefighters had “met resistance” from some camp residents.

Health authorities on Tuesday said 35 people had been confirmed infected with the virus so far after a major testing drive was ordered at the overcrowded facility.

Early on Wednesday, riot police were deployed along the highway that connects the camp to Mytilene, some three miles to the south.

Lesbos was Europe’s busiest crossing point in 2015-16 for illegal migration during a massive westward movement of refugees, many fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and travelling through Turkey.

Firefighters on Lesbos were also battling two other forest fires on the west of the island.

Oktoberfest 2020: Munich celebrations begin

Oktoberfest celebrations got underway Saturday in Munich with the traditional tapping of a keg and the cry of “O’zapft is!” — “It’s tapped!” — but this year’s festival is very non-traditional and highly regulated due to coronavirus concerns.

The official Oktoberfest has been cancelled, so there’s no huge tents full of people or hundreds of stands selling food. Instead, 50 of the southern German city’s beer halls and other establishments are hosting their own, smaller parties that follow guidelines on mask wearing, social distancing and other restrictions.

Former Mayor Christian Ude got the party started, hammering a tap into a 20 liter (5 gallon) keg — a tenth of the size of the Oktoberfest norm — at the Schillerbraeu beer hall while dressed in Bavarian lederhosen leather pants and wearing a protective mask.

Meantime, police patrolled the regular festival grounds to make sure no spontaneous parties broke out.

The loss of Oktoberfest is a huge hit for the Bavarian city, which saw 6.3 million guests flood in last year for the festival’s 186th year. They were served 7.3 million liters (about 15.5 million pints) of beer over 16 days and consumed 124 oxen, among other traditional foods.

This year’s toned-down celebrations run through Oct. 4.

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