Several more dead found after the forest fires in Greece
Rescue workers continue the search for victims in building remains and burned out cars outside of Athens. The number of dead people after the forest fires in Greece has increased to 79.
A spokesperson for the fire department announced on Wednesday that the number of deaths has risen from 74 to 79.
How many that are missing is unclear. The authorities have not yet published any estimates of potential victims that have not been accounted for.
On social media and on Greek television stations, desperate relatives have told about missing family members, hoping to get more information.
There was chaos on the coast east of Athens when the flames spread with lightning speed on Monday evening. Hundreds of people sought shelter on at beaches or in the ocean, where they were picked up by boats later.
A large number of firefighters are still working on after extinguishing in areas northeast of Athens. Others are working to fight another forest fire west of the city.
At the same time, the search for more victims is ongoing. One of the leaders of the rescue service states that «the problem is that which is hidden beneath the ashes».
The village of Mati, which is hardest hit, is located in a popular tourist area. Among the dead, there is a Belgian man and a Polish woman with her son.
On Tuesday evening, 82 people were still treated in hospitals. Among them are about ten children. The condition of most of them is described as serious.
Storm and drought
Although the number of dead still can increase, it is already clear that forest fires are among the deadliest in the whole world for decades.
The only forest fires that may have demanded more human life in Europe since the turn of the millennium, hit Greece in 2007. Then 84 persons perished in the flames.
On Monday evening there was a storm raging in the affected areas, which caused the fires to spread like wildfire. It was also hot and extremely dry conditions.
Several fires occurred more or less at the same time, which has prompted the authorities to suspect they may have been deliberate. One theory is that the fires were started by criminals who wished to burglar evacuated houses.
Prosecutors attached to the Supreme Court of Greece states that they have started the investigating of the forest fires.
Ran like a madman
Greek media have in recent days been characterized by dramatic depictions from survivors.
Athanasia Oktapodi (60) says it took only five to ten minutes from when he first saw the flames before the flames engulfed his garden.
– I ran like a madman, got to the beach and placed my head under the water. The patrol boats arrived shortly after, says Oktapodi.
Anna Kiriazova (56) says that the fire came very quickly and that there was a strong wind. The narrow streets outside her home were blocked by cars, and she and her husband, therefore, decided to stay in their house near Mati.
They sprinkled water over the building with a garden hose, closed the shutters in front of the windows and held wet towels in front of the faces.
– The inferno lasted for about an hour. I do not have words that can describe what we went through, she says.
Facts about major forest fires in Europe
These are the forest fires that have demanded most human lives in Europe since the turn of the millennium.
- 84 people died in major forest fires in Greece in late August 2007. The fires affected areas south of the peninsular Peloponnese and the Evia Island.
- At least 79 people died in forest fires that came out of control Monday outside of Athens, according to the local fire department. It is feared that the number of dead may increase further.
- 66 people perished and 250 were injured in the worst forest fires in Portuguese history in June 2017. Strong winds caused the flames to spread rapidly through eucalyptus and pine trees.
(Sources: NTB, AFP, BBC)
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today