Greece wildfires leave more than 60 dead at holiday resorts

Greece has been hit with deadliest blazes in more than a decade. At least 60 people are claimed to have died while 100 others injured. The wildfires hit resort areas near Athens threatening the lives of tourists. Of those able to escape the various fires, more than 1000 have been injured, 69 of which have been hospitalized, 11 in a serious condition.

As the Greek Red Cross reported on Tuesday morning, it had found 26 bodies in the village of Mati. This more than doubled the initial death toll.

According to the mayor of the town of Rafina, which has been hit by the blazes, more than 60 people had lost their lives. The mayor told the Greek Skai TV on Tuesday that the number of the dead is still rising.

The witnesses of the fire in Mati settlement some 20 kilometers east of Athens say that it was hit so hard that it nearly doesn’t exist. Hundreds of tourists rushed into the sea in an attempt to escape the fire. Many of them were rescued by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats. However, three women and a child drowned in the sea while trying to save their lives.

“We are dealing with something completely asymmetric,” Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said. “It’s a difficult night for Greece.” Tsipras and Greek officials have expressed misgivings at the fact that several major fires broke out at the same time.

Greece has appealed for international help through the European Union as fires are still raging out of control, destroying property and disrupting major transport links. At the moment, more than 600 firefighters and 300 vehicles are involved in trying to put out the fires. Turkey has already offered Athens its help in fighting the blazes.

Wildfires are not common in Greece but a relatively dry winter led to conditions in which fires could ignite easily. Despite Athens witnessed showers on Monday they missed the two biggest fires in Rafina and at Kineta to the west of the city.

The authorities hope that heavy rain, forecast across southern Greece on Wednesday, would help to tackle the raging wildfires.