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29 Jul, 2007 14:35

First Russian firefighting plane arrives in Athens

The first of three Russian aircraft has arrived in Greece to help the authorities tackle wildfires still burning across the country. The plane and two helicopters requested by Greece are due to arrive in Athens to help local firefighters dampen smoldering

Able to carry some 12 tons of water, Russia's BE-200 amphibious plane is expected to be deployed on Monday.

Blazes across Greece last week destroyed homes and forced several villages to be evacuated.

Firefighters are believed to have got most fires now under control as temperatures across southern Europe begin to cool.

The plane's pilot, Igor Polunin, explained how the operation works.

“We take off, collect water from the sea and go to drop it off on the affected area. Afterwards, we do a control flight to see where the fires are at their worst and begin to intercept it. We drop the water off from 40 to 50 meters,” he said.