Thirteen crew-members of a mega-yacht were arrested on Saturday on charges stemming from a wildfire that erupted a day earlier in the only forested area on the other-wise arid island of Hydra, a blaze allegedly caused by fireworks launched from the vessel.


Photo by : Εποχικοί Πυροσβέστες/ Facebook

The pleasure craft, identified in media reports as the for-hire vessel “Persephone”, was also seized by the Greek coast guard as it anchored off a southeast Athens-area marina on Saturday.

All of the suspects, identified at press time as Greek citizens, are due to face a local prosecutor in Piraeus on Sunday on a charge of negligently starting a fire that causes significant damage, which was recently made stricter in a penal code revision.

According to reports, the mega-yacht had been leased by a group of 17 holiday-makers from Kazakhstan. No information was given as to whether any of the passengers face charges.

Eponymous Hydra, which lies off the eastern seaboard of the Peloponnese province, is renowned as a historic and picturesque isle that’s essentially a rock, with very little vegetation and only one main settlement where no vehicles are allowed.

Officers from the fire brigade’s arson division also took statements aboard the vessel of its crewmembers and passengers, demanding, among others, the lease agreement for the specific journey and if the yacht’s owner knew of the existence of fireworks onboard.

Additionally, authorities asked for a license to launch fireworks – which did not exist – and where they were purchased and when.

Much of Greece is in a high alert four or five due to weather conditions favoring the outbreak of wildfires, an annual summer scourge in the east Mediterranean country.

According to Hydra mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis, the incident occurred a day earlier late on Friday at around midnight, when a blaze broke out in the remote pine patch.

A volunteer fire unit promptly responded to the inaccessible area by boat, despite rough seas. With additional aerial support arriving in the early morning hours, they managed to bring the wildfire under control.

“Persephone” Yacht