Several fires broke out in the early hours of today in the largest refugee camp in Greece, in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, leading to escape, according to authorities.
“The fire spread on and off the field and destroyed it. There are more than 12,000 migrants being watched by the police on a highway, ”the mayor of the main town on the island, Mylinene, told Skai private radio, quoted by the Associated Press (AP) news agency.
“It is a very difficult situation, because some of those who are not outside include people who are positive [in relation to the coronavirus],” added Mayor Stratos Kytelis.
According to the firefighters, quoted by the news agency France-Presse (AFP), “the fires spread on the meadow around the field, but also inside the structure”, are mobilizing 25 operatives and 10 vehicles in the camp, which currently houses about 12,700 asylum seekers, four times their capacity.
A photographer from the France-Presse news agency (AFP) at the scene reported that “almost the entire field is on fire, both inside and in the tents outside the olive grove”.
“Asylum seekers flee the camp on foot towards the port of Mytilene, but are blocked by vehicles behind the law’s curtains,” added the same source.
An association of locals and refugees, a Stand by Me Lesvos, wrote on the social network Twitter: “Everything is burning, people are fleeing”. “There are reports that local people are blocking a passage [of refugees] to a neighboring location,” added the association.
The AP confirmed that the riot police were deployed around the camp and along the five-kilometer route to Mytilene, in an apparent effort to prevent migrants from reaching the port.
According to the Greek news agency ANA, the fires must be started following the revolt of some asylum seekers reflected in isolation, after having tested positive for the covid-19.
The Lesbos firefighters were also fighting two other forest fires in the western part of the island. There are no immediate reports of injuries.
Last week, Greek authorities detected a first case of coronavirus in the Moria camp, a Somali resident, and quarantined the camp.
Health officials said on Tuesday that they had diagnosed 35 cases of covid-19 to date, after a major testing campaign at overcrowded facilities.
In the country there are more than 24,000 asylum seekers, who remain in unhealthy and crowded facilities.
The main refugee camps are set up on five islands in the Aegean Sea.
According to the authorities, refugees arriving in Greece are subject to a “quarantine” in “separate structures” in order to prevent the spread of the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus.
So far, there have been no deaths from covid-19 in refugee camps in Greece.