Published: Sat, July 28, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Arson Suspected in Deadly Greece Wildfires

Arson Suspected in Deadly Greece Wildfires

"I ran out like a insane person, got to the beach and put my head in the water".

"We found her vehicle, it wasn't burnt, nor was the house", said 60-year-old Saridou.

In all, 47 brush and forest fires broke out across Greece on Monday and early Tuesday, with a lot of them quickly extinguished, the fire department said.

The fires in Greece have forced thousands of locals to flee to safer areas as firefighters battle the blazes.

More than 700 people who escaped the fire and reached the shores were transported to safe areas by coast guard teams and private boats.

The girl's father Yiannis on Tuesday pleaded for help to locate his daughters Sofia and Vasiliki Philippopoulos after they were spotted on a rescue boat during a live cross on Greek television.

Regional 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.

"What upsets me and what I will carry in my heart is that it is awful to see the person next to you drowning and not being able to help him".

The grisly discovery of 26 bodies brought the death toll to 74 on Tuesday in the wildfires ravaging the seaside areas around Athens in Greece´s deadliest blazes in more than a decade, with fears the death toll may yet rise further. Twenty-three children were also being treated for injuries in hospitals, none of them in serious condition.

All told, more than 150 adults and 16 children were hospitalized at last count, with 10 fires still burning as of late Tuesday morning. It saved my life.

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"I took my baby and ran to the sea, while my wife - I didn't know what happened. We managed to find a small gap and we made it out".

The mayor of Rafina, Evangelos Bournous, told the BBC on Tuesday that the dead could exceed 100. "We had to swim out because of the smoke, but we couldn't see where anything was", he said.

The New York Times said that wildfires are an annual occurrence in Greece, but a drought and a recent heat wave, with temperatures over 100 degrees, have helped make this fire particularly unsafe.

"Residents and visitors in the area did not escape in time even though they were a few metres from the sea or in their homes", said fire brigade spokesman Stavroula Maliri.

Greece sought global help through the European Union.

Responding to the appeal, Spain, Italy and Romania sent firefighting aircraft, while Cyprus sent in 60 firefighters.

In all, 47 brush and forest fires broke out across Greece on Monday and early on Tuesday, with a lot of them quickly extinguished, the fire department said.

France, Israel, Bulgaria and Turkey also offered assistance as messages of condolences poured in from around the world.

Rain is forecast for the coming days, which will help efforts to douse the flames after temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius on Monday.

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