Greek wildfires: Irish newlyweds among those still missing as survivor hunt continues
28 July, 2018, 21:39 | Author: Bert Pena
Regional authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of the greater Athens area as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside settlements on either side of the Greek capital. "I grabbed a beach towel. Then the fire was all around us", he said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has cut short his visit to Bosnia-Herzgovina due to the natural disaster at home.
Searchers went house-to-house on Wednesday looking for more casualties in the aftermath of Monday's deadly wildfires near Athens.
Over 400 firefighters have battled the blazes, along with seven water-dropping helicopters and three firefighting aircraft.
A flotilla of coast guard and private boats evacuated more than 700 people from threatened beaches overnight, authorities said.
The two largest wildfires - one 30 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of Athens near Rafina, the other 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of the capital in Kineta - broke out Monday during hot, dry summer conditions.
Coastal patrol boats combed the shoreline, searching for survivors and bodies, while rescue teams searched houses and cars.
According to the mayor of nearby Rafina, Evangelos Bournous the village of "Mati no longer exists", with winds of over 100 kilometres per hour resulting in the fire progressing rapidly through the village, while whipping fireballs into the sea, where hundreds of people were headed to escape the blazes.
"It is bad to see the person next to you drowning and not being able to help him", Stavrinidis said, his voice breaking.
At least 50 people have died and 156 have been injured in forest fires raging near Athens, the Greek Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday.
Although the fires had largely abated by Tuesday afternoon, they were far from out.
A satellite map of the area revealed the scale of the fire damage, showing that more than half the 12,760 acres affected were residential areas.
Wildfires sweeping through a Greek resort town have killed at least 74 people including families with children found clasped in a last embrace as they tried to flee the flames.
"I took my baby and ran to the sea, while my wife - I didn't know what happened".
The friend her sister had gone swimming with survived with light burns to the foot, Ms Saridou said, but they became separated in the chaos of the fire. "It's just that we can't find her".
But "the problem is what is still hidden under the ashes", said emergency services vice president Miltiadis Mylonas.
Greece's fire service said the intensity and spread of the wildfire had slowed as winds died down, but it was still not fully under control. Israel, Turkey and Bulgaria also offered assistance.
It is hoped that heavy rain forecast across southern Greecewill boost the firefighting effort.
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