Villages evacuated in northern Greece after fire at battery plant

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by Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of residents of six villages in northern Greece either evacuated their homes or stayed indoors due to air quality on Wednesday after a fire at a battery plant.

The blaze broke out on Tuesday at Sunlight Systems, a factory that makes batteries, on the outskirts of the city of Xanthi, some 700 km northeast of Athens, and was extinguished by Wednesday.

No injuries were reported, according to the fire service, and the cause of the blaze is still unknown.

However, concern about the impact of the smoke on public health led to local authorities advising that people living within 15 km of the plant should leave their homes or stay indoors for 48 hours as a precautionary measure.

Schools in the area will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday as well, as scientists are taking measurements to check the levels of potentially dangerous particles in the atmosphere.

"It is worth clarifying that there is no danger of toxic fumes in the area," a company press release stressed.

"Despite Tuesday's unfortunate incident, I would like to reassure staff that we will retain all job positions and will restore the damages," said Yannis Karagiannis, chairman of Olympia Group which owns Sunlight Systems, according to Greek national news agency AMNA.

Sunlight Systems employs 820 workers, has clients in 100 countries worldwide and in 2016 had a turnover of 194.5 million euros (232.5 million U.S. dollars), according to the company's website. Enditem

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