Fishermen joined rescue mission as people fleeing Greek fires headed into sea

28 July, 2018, 21:35 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Greece Forest Fires

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos visited Mati on Thursday morning and was heckled by distraught men and women, who accused authorities of not doing enough in the initial hours of the fire. "I grabbed a beach towel".

He compared the ordeal to the destruction of the city of Pompeii, where thousands were incinerated by the volcano of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD: "I said my God, we must run to save ourselves and nothing else".

"Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said as he appeared on television to declare three days of national mourning.

26 people were found dead in a resort town in Greece, huddled together after likely trying to escape vicious forest fires that have engulfed much of the region.

Coast guard and private boats picked up more than 700 survivors from beaches and the sea - but also recovered six bodies.

Tourists - and residents - have been fleeing to the coastline to escape the flames and smoke of the two largest fires, one 20 miles north-east of Athens near Rafina, the other 30 miles west of the capital in Kineta. In nearby Mati, the coast guard was sending a patrol boat to evacuate people trapped on a beach by the flames.

Raging wildfires killed 74 people in Greece, devouring homes and forests as terrified residents fled to the sea to escape the flames, authorities said yesterday, reports AFP.

Acropolis flag
The flag on the Acropolis hill flies at half-mast

"It is awful to see the person next to you drowning and not being able to help him", Stavrinidis said, his voice breaking. Another 23 children have been treated by medics and 11 of them were hospitalized.

"Our thoughts go to Greece and the victims of the awful fires". But some suggested that the sheer force of winds, thick pine, fire and panic was a deadly combination making even the most well-executed evacuation plan futile.

Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous says one in four houses have been completely destroyed by the fire, while 50% more have been partially damaged. It saved my life. "I don't know if they are OK. We managed to find a small gap and we made it out". "We are in contact with the Greek emergency services responding to the fires, and will do all we can to assist any British people who require help". "We had to swim out because of the smoke, but we couldn't see where anything was", he said. "The wind changed and it came at us with such force that it razed the coastal area in minutes".

The president told the Greek premier that he shares the pain of the Greeks, and Turkey remains ready to help Greece, the source added.

Greece's fire brigade said the intensity and spread of the wildfire at Mati had slowed on Tuesday as winds died down, but it was still not fully under control.

After temperatures climbed to 40 degrees Celsius, forecasters said conditions would remain challenging on Tuesday, although showers and falling temperatures were expected in Athens.

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