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Ecological disaster on Greek island as fire burns on

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Firefighters on the Greek island of Evia were still battling Wednesday to contain a fire that has caused massive damage to a pristine mountain wildlife habitat after threatening four communities.

“It’s a huge ecological disaster in a unique, untouched pine forest,” said acting regional governor Costas Bakoyannis.

The fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday on Greece’s second-largest island prompted the evacuation of the villages of Kontodespoti, Makrymalli, Stavros and Platana, and threatened the town of Psachna during the night, officials said.

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“From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli everything has been burned down. It’s fortunate that we do not have human victims,” Thanassis Karakatzas, a deputy regional civil protection officer, told state agency ANA.

Over 200 firefighters were in action backed by 75 fire trucks, nine water-bombing helicopters and seven planes along a 12-kilometer (seven-mile) front, managing to avert damage to inhabited areas.

“We succeeded in protecting human lives and saving properties,” said citizen’s protection minister Michalis Chrisohoidis.

“We should be able to tackle the fire by the end of the day,” Yiannis Razos, a local official, told Athens municipal radio.

The area faced power outages and water cuts on Wednesday, residents said.

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An Italian water bomber was expected to join the fray later in the day after Greece requested EU assistance. A second Italian plane and two more from Spain were due to arrive by the evening.

EU Humanitarian Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who held talks with senior officials in Athens, called the mobilisation of Greek forces “exemplary”.

“I think we will be able to limit the ecological losses…European solidarity is tangible,” Stylianides told reporters.

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However, the fire has caused major damage to the 550-hectare wildlife habitat of Agrilitsa.

No injuries or respiratory problems that required hospitalization were reported at the height of the emergency on Tuesday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in a tweet.

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But three ambulances were stationed close to the area as a precaution.

Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend, fanned by gale-force winds and temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who cancelled his summer vacation and returned to Athens on Tuesday, acknowledged that the fire crews had had a grueling battle, with the fire department handling about 50 blazes daily.

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“I am aware that our firefighters, particularly over the last five days, have given their all, they are without sleep and often without food,” Mitsotakis said.

Other fires on Tuesday were contained on the island of Thassos, the central region of Viotia, and in the Peloponnese region.

On Monday, a major forest fire threatening homes in Peania, an eastern suburb of Athens, was brought under control. At least two houses were burned but there were no reports of injuries.

On Sunday, a fire on the small island of Elafonissos, in the Peloponnese, was brought under control after a two-day battle.

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WATCH: Town hall crowd explodes into applause as New Jersey lawmaker announces he will vote for Trump impeachment

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On Sunday morning CNN aired a clip of Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) announcing before a town hall crowd on Saturday that he will vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump -- causing some of the audience members to explode into applause over his decision.

In the clip, the lawmaker explains, "Based on the evidence I have seen in the depositions, the hearings and the documents I've seen, I believe on the two counts of impeachment that the vote that has been put before us, that the vote should be yes, and I will be voting yes."

With that, the crowd burst into cheers with some leaping from their seats.

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ABC News had the goods on Jeffrey Epstein years ago — and killed the story

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Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines

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A powerful earthquake hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday, killing a child, injuring dozens and damaging buildings in an area still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.

Police said a rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada near the 6.8 magnitude quake's epicentre, which is about 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of the major city of Davao.

Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls after the jolt and dozens of smaller, but strong aftershocks.

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