Greek wildfires kill dozens in Attica

Eighty people -- up until the moment this text was written -- have died and at least 180 people were hurt in wildfires near Athens. This is Greece's worst fire disaster since the blazes that raged across the southern Peloponnese in August 2007.

Dialekti Angeli
Dialekti Angeli NewsMavens, Greece
Greek wildfires kill dozens in Attica - NewsMavens
a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the California Army National Guard's B Company, 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, takes off from Camarillo Airport in Camarillo, California. US Department of Agriculture/Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

The fast-moving wildfires have forced thousands of people to flee in any way they could to save their lives.

The strong winds have fanned the fires that completely destroyed seaside areas leaving behind a trail of charred resorts, smoldering farms and burned-out cars.

People tried to leave in cars and buses but many evacuation routes were blocked. Those who managed to escape by road had to drive through choking smoke and walls of flame.

The fires have even reached the sea where many people had fled, forcing them to board rickety boats and makeshift rafts or swim for over four hours in order to escape the flames, which has posed a deadly challenge. The Coast Guard has said it recovered the bodies of at least six persons from the sea. 

On Tuesday, at first light, the news that 26 people were found dead in a field near Mati, north of Rafina, froze the blood of all Greeks.

There were families with children locked in a last embrace as they tried to flee the flames. Unfortunately, there are many people still missing and over ten people have been hospitalized in a serious condition. The death toll is rising every hour.

Details from the story:

  • In a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, forty-seven new fires broke out.
  • Greece’s emergency services were stretched to capacity. More than 600 firefighters and 250 fire engines were deployed to the sites of the two largest fires.
  • The country’s entire fleet of water-dropping aircraft was deployed on Monday, the military sent specially trained units for fire prevention patrols and officials called on their partners in the European Union for help.
  • Twelve Coast Guard vessels, aided by about 30 private boats, rescued 710 people who were trapped in Mati and nearby Kokkino Limanaki, and pulled dozens of others from the sea.
  • The Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, declared three days of national mourning.
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