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Greek Firefighters Fail to Contain Sweeping Wildfires


Fire officials in Greece say wildfires sweeping the country have not been contained, but are not as fierce as in previous days.

Firefighting efforts remain concentrated Wednesday on the island of Evia, north of Athens, and the Peloponnese peninsula, which is a landscape of blackened tree trunks and gutted houses.

The fires have claimed at least 63 lives and destroyed thousands of hectares of forest and numerous villages.

Public criticism over the government's handling of the disaster is intense, with thousands of Greeks expected to attend a protest in Athens, Wednesday.

Police have charged seven people with arson and are offering a reward of $1.4 million for information leading to more arrests.

At the Vatican Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of the fires and condemned the "criminal actions" of those who were responsible.

Greek firefighters - joined by colleagues from Israel and around Europe - are using water-dropping planes and helicopters to fight the flames.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, and AP.

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