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Fire destroys Greece’s largest migrant camp

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Fire has destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp, the overcrowded Moria facility on the island of Lesbos.

About 25 firefighters with 10 engines battled the flames as migrants were evacuated. Some suffered injuries from smoke exposure.

It is unclear how the fires began, with some blaming the migrants and others blaming Greek locals.

Police cordoned off roads leading from the camp to prevent fleeing migrants entering nearby towns.

Thousands are now without accommodation, and authorities are struggling to find them shelter.

The government has declared a four-day state of emergency.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas has called the blaze a “humanitarian disaster” and tweeted about “the distribution of refugees among those willing to accept admission in the European Union (EU)”.

Some locals reportedly attacked and prevented migrants from passing through a nearby village after they fled the flames.

A statement issued by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said it was aware of “tensions” between nearby townsfolk and the migrants.

“We urge all to exercise restraint,” it said, and asked anyone who had been at the camp “to restrict their movements and stay near [the site], as a temporary solution is being found to shelter them”.

Moria is home to nearly 13,000 people, more than four times the number it can officially hold. According to InfoMigrants, about 70 per cent of people in the camp are from Afghanistan but migrants from more than 70 different countries live there.

Fire broke out in more than three places in a short space of time, local fire chief Konstantinos Theofilopoulos told state television channel ERT. Protesting migrants hindered firefighters who tried to tackle the flames, he said.

The main blaze was put out by Wednesday morning, although Mr Theofilopoulos said there were still some small fires burning inside some containers at the site.

One local resident told the BBC almost the whole camp had been on fire.

“Now with the first light I can see that there is a few tents that make it, they are okay, but the rest of the camp, as I can see from this distance, is burnt out,” Thanasis Voulgarakis said.

Lesbos deputy governor Aris Hatzikomninos reportedly told local radio the camp had been “completely destroyed”.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called an emergency meeting on the fire on Wednesday morning, and several ministers are now heading to Lesbos to assess the situation. -BBC

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