Greece mourns death of two fire-fighting pilots, as heat wave continues

The military aviation services are observing two days of mourning, following the deaths of two pilots, killed on Monday (July 23rd) when their firefighting plane crashed while trying to put out a blaze caused by record heat on the island of Evia. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and other officials have offered their condolences to the families of the two young men.On Tuesday, the government announced a series of emergency measures aimed at dealing with forest fires caused by the heat wave. Special squads will patrol 24 hours a day in areas most likely to catch fire. The government also plans to ask its EU partners for more planes and helicopters.

Electricity supplies are being affected by higher consumption in Greece and elsewhere. Blackouts were reported in Macedonia and in other Balkan countries. Albania has been especially hard hit, prompting the opposition Socialist Movement for Integration party to threaten a series of protests over power supply issues.

Romania, where the death toll from heat-related causes has reached 30, also registered historic high energy consumption Tuesday due to excess use of air conditioning systems.

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