Sudden fire kills one, injures dozens in Greece

At least one tourist was killed and dozens of people were taken to the hospital with burns and breathing difficulties Tuesday, after a fire broke out on Northern Greece.

A sudden fire forced evacuations from the local vacation homes and hotels. Several thousand people fled the blaze on the Halkidiki peninsula which destroyed or seriously damaged more than 50 homes and dozens of cars, AP reports.

Fire officials said there had been indications of arson.

"This is a major fire, and a disaster has been declared in the area. With the daylight, firefighting planes are being used and that is helping this effort," said Giorgos Kalatzis, minister for Greece 's Macedonia and Thrace administrative regions.

Ten water-bombing planes and helicopters began assisting the effort at first light, as more than 250 firefighters and soldiers battled the fire that swept over rugged terrain, fanned by gusts of wind and temperatures reaching 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Police said a German tourist had drowned while trying to escape a fire-stricken area by boat.

Earlier, coast guard and private boats picked up stranded tourists and local residents from beaches in the Cassandra area.

Kalatzis said he hoped the fire could be contained later Tuesday.

The fire burned out of control on two main fronts, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Thessaloniki, Greece 's second largest city.

At least 50 people - mostly Greeks - were hospitalized with breathing problems and several people were being treated for burns.

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