WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A local official reported the death toll to local media—at least 60 people have been killed in Greece’s worst wildfires in over a decade.
- The fires wreaked havoc in the Attica region around Athens, with flames ravaging the seaside village of Mati.
- The remains of 26 adults and children, hugging each other while burning, were found by rescuers just a few meters from the sea.
Hundreds of firefighters have been working to control the wildfires in Greece but the flames continue to destroy everything in its path, including human lives. Officials are already asking for international assistance as death toll rises.
At least 60 people have been killed by the fire, some of them found near the sea. Many reports have been received by the rescue services looking for missing persons.
“We will do whatever is humanly possible to control it,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters.
Families fled to the safety of the sea but were trapped by the inferno. Others were found dead in buildings or vehicles, mostly tourists who attempted to escape but failed.
The police have already blocked access to the region preventing relatives of those missing to enter the endangered zone.
Nikos Economopoulos, head of Greece’s Red Cross, said: “They had tried to find an escape route but unfortunately these people and their kids didn’t make it in time,” referring to the 26 bodies found near the sea. “Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced.”
Coastal patrol boats and other private boats were able to rescue hundreds of people who managed to reach ports or beaches.
“Thankfully the sea was there and we went into the sea because the flames were chasing us all the way to the water,” one survivor, Kostas Laganos, said.
“It burned our backs and we dived into the water,” he added.
A state of emergency has been declared in Attica by Prime Minister Tsipras. He already sought assistance from other European nations, asking for helicopters and additional firefighters to help battle the fires.
Italy, Germany, Poland and France have all sent help in the form of planes, vehicles and firefighters, and Spain and Cyprus have offered Greece assistance, but with temperatures set to soar again, they are in a race against time to get the fires under control, BBC reported.
Sweden is also experiencing forest fires, with at least one person reportedly killed and dozens injured as rising temperatures continue across most of Europe.
This is the worst wildfires in Greece since 2007. Fires are a recurring problem during the hot, dry summer months in Attica, according to BBC.