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Budget cuts hit Greek fire fight

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July 19, 2012, 1:40 p.m. | World — by Associated Press

Scorched and burnt earth next to a vineyard at Drepano village near the western Greek port city of Patras Thursday, July 19, 2012.
© AP

RIO, Greece — Greece's fire service says half of its planes are grounded due to maintenance difficulties, slowing an effort to contain two major wildfires and dozens of smaller blazes.

Fire Service Spokesman Nikos Tsongas said Thursday that 11 of the service's 21 air tankers were grounded.

Greece's new government warned earlier this week that steep budget cuts had hurt the country's firefighting effort and requested assistance from the European Union's civil protection mechanism.

At least six villages have been evacuated in southern Greece and the island of Crete, where the worst of 75 wildfires reported since Wednesday had occurred.

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