Greece: Deadliest blazes in years!

Charlene Craig
July 26, 2018

Mr Dunne said the couple were trying to escape the resort in Mati where the fires broke out and they became separated in the process. Some rushed to the beaches.

Others were overtaken by the flames in their homes, on foot or in their cars.

The death toll rose sharply on Tuesday morning after 26 bodies were found near the harbour town of Rafina, according to Red Cross workers and the region's vice mayor, Girgos Kokkolis.

"Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced".

Video footage showed people fleeing by auto as the tourist-friendly Attica region declared a state of emergency.

A Reuters photographer saw at least four dead people on a narrow road clogged with cars heading to a beach.

Her home is surrounded by dry pine trees. More than 700 people were rescued by the Coast Guard, Sky News reported.

Nine coastal patrol boats, two military vessels and "dozens of private boats" assisted by army helicopters were mobilized to help those stuck in Rafina harbor.

One of the youngest victims was thought to be a six-month-old baby who died of smoke inhalation, officials said.

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And at least five people died trying to escape the flames into the sea, as rescue searches continued on Tuesday, while 715 people were evacuated by boats to Rafina, the government said.

Of the more than 160 adults injured, 71 were hospitalized and at least 10 had to be intubated, fire officials said.

At least 104 people were injured, 11 seriously, with 16 children among the casualties.

Greek authorities have urged the public to contact them if they are looking for loved ones and many people have taken to social media, posting pictures of those they were looking for and their last known location before the fires struck.

"People are shocked, lost". He announced three days of national mourning.

Government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said "15 fires had started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens" on Monday.

Fire Service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said Greece had called on the European Union for assistance with aerial and ground support in helping battle the flames. Many vehicles were found with the keys still in the ignition and doors open, a sign of the urgency with which their occupants sought to flee the flames.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted the EU "will spare no effort to help Greece and the Greek people" while Pope Francis spoke of his "deep sadness", sentiments echoed by EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders.

In the north of the country, more than 300 firefighters, five aircraft and two helicopters were mobilised to tackle the "extremely difficult" situation, Athens fire chief Achille Tzouvaras said.

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Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday the priority was to extinguish a fire that was still burning in Kineta, 50km from Athens.

Near the town of Marathon, residents fled to safety along the beach, while 600 children were evacuated from holiday camps in the area.

"I am really concerned by the parallel outbreak of these fires", he said, with officials raising the possibility they could have been started deliberately by criminals out to ransack abandoned homes.

The cause of the current blaze was not immediately clear and an Athens prosecutor ordered an investigation into it.

By yesterday afternoon, the Mati fire was contained, but the risk remained of it reigniting in scrubland parched by Greece's searing summer heat. Blazes in 2007 on the southern island of Evia claimed 77 lives.

Although the fires had largely abated by today, they were far from out.

Meanwhile, in Finland's northernmost Lapland province, fires have ravaged woods and grassland close to the border with Russian Federation. Forest fires are also raging in Sweden.

The fire brigade brought the blaze quickly under control.

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