Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of greater Athens, as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside towns on either side of the Greek capital.
Dozens of people have died.
“Huge flames trapped families with children as they tried to flee from Mati, 18 miles (29km) east of the Greek capital, where the blaze hit on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday morning a Red Cross official said 26 people had died as they huddled tightly together close to the beach.” – theguardian.com
Many in the area were unable to escape the fast pace of the blaze even though they were a few meters from the Aegean Sea or in their homes, the fire service said.
“We went into the sea because the flames were chasing us all the way to the water. It burned our backs and we dove into the water,” said Kostas Laganos, a middle-aged survivor.
Greek coastguard vessels and other boats rescued almost 700 people who had managed to get to the shoreline and pulled another 19 survivors and six dead bodies from the sea, the coastguard said.
In total, at least 74 people had been killed, a fire brigade spokeswoman said, and the death toll was expected to rise.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fires had died down but are still not under control.