Among the acres of forests in the outskirts of Athens reduced to cinders by a three-day inferno, expensive villas with pools have appeared.

"Every time there is a fire we discover new communities we never knew existed," Greenpeace Greece director Nikos Haralambides told Reuters. "We have a state that just keeps legalizing unauthorized development."

Dina Kyriakidou
Aug. 25: Wildfires that tore through suburbs of Athens and forced thousands of people to flee their homes were contained on Tuesday as the government

A huge wildfire fanned by strong winds cut a swathe of destruction near Athens on Sunday, burning houses, razing large patches of forest and sending thousands fleeing their homes, authorities said.

Dark plumes of smoke hung over the Acropolis as the flames, raging unchecked for a second day, reached the Greek capital's northern suburbs.

A wildfire raged close to a village near the Greek capital Athens, sending people fleeing from their homes and workplaces Thursday and damaging buildings, officials said.

More than 100 fire fighters with 25 fire engines and five helicopters battled the flames in an industrial area near Magoula, about 20 km (12 miles) northwest of Athens, while strong winds fanned the blaze.

Google faces roadblocks in Greece. The country

Common dolphins, once a frequent sight in the Mediterranean, may soon be extinct in Greece's Ionian Sea due to overfishing, environmentalists warned on Wednesday.

WWF and a dozen other environmental organisations said research showed numbers of dark-grey, white-bellied dolphins had decreased from 150 to 15 in 10 years in protected areas in the Ionian, between Greece and Italy.

seasonal shift Cherry blossoms early in Japan Japan

Germany has outlawed the cultivation of Monsanto's genetically modified maize, Mon810 - the only GM crop approved in the European Union.

European Union emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for stoking global warming fell by 1.2 percent in 2007, paradoxically aided by a mild winter that cut heating demand, EU data showed on Friday.

Emissions by the 27-nation bloc in 2007, before the current global economic downturn, dipped to 9.2 percent below a 1990 benchmark year under the UN's Kyoto Protocol for fighting climate change.

Aircraft and patrol boats will be deployed to prevent over-trawling by European Union fleets when the fishing season for the endangered bluefin tuna opens on Thursday.

Prized by sushi lovers but chronically overfished for years, bluefin tuna commands sky-high prices in Asia, particularly in Japan where a single fish can fetch up to $100,000.