From the Telegraph:
Around 1,000 firefighters and soldiers were able to take advantage of a lull in strong winds that had fanned the blaze for four days to bring some of the areas under control.
The high winds were expected to ease further on Tuesday, Greece’s National Weather Service said, although the risk of flare-ups remained.
The government faced accusations that its handling of the wild fires, which broke out on Friday and swept through suburbs on the capital’s northern and eastern flank, was “criminal negligence”.
Terrified homeowners described how they had begged for help from firefighters and local authorities but were forced to flee their houses when no assistance arrived.
Many were reduced to fighting the blazes with garden hoses and even tree branches.
But the government defended its handling of the fires, blaming extremely strong winds for their intensity.
A spokesman said firefighters’ efforts had been “extraordinary” and that it was a tribute to their hard work that there was no loss of life or serious injury.
But its handling of the crisis was attacked by opposition parties and the press.
The mayors of more than a dozen towns and villages angrily demanded more aerial support, while many residents complained of being left to fight the flames alone.
The mayor of the town of Marathon, Spyros Zagaris, said he had “begged” the government to send water-dumping aircraft but to no avail.
A dozen nuns were evacuated from a convent near the village of Nea Makri, north of Athens, as flames raced down a mountainside towards the ancient building.
“The flames were 30 metres (100 feet) high,” said one of the sisters, wearing a black habit and a surgical mask to ward off the smoke. “Thankfully they came and rescued us.”
Water-bombing planes and helicopters from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France repeatedly doused the flames, swooping low over burnt out woodland and olive groves.
“The intensity of the fire is weakening and the area under our control is growing,” said a fire department spokesman, Yiannis Kapakis.
The battle against the fire will be crucial to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose government is clinging to a one-seat majority.
It is not yet clear how the conflagration started but hundreds of forest fires affect Greece every summer and many are lit intentionally often by unscrupulous land developers or farmers seeking to expand their grazing land.
The head of the environmental group WWF said the government had failed to crack down on rogue developers who build homes illegally in burnt forest areas.
“A compete overhaul is required in the way we deal with forest fires. There is no sign the (government) is moving in the right direction,” said Dimitris Karavellas.