Greece has been facing the most devastating wildfires in over ten years. Over 50 people have died, authorities said on July 24th. As reported by AP, the fires have pushed rescue crews to their limits.
In Mati, an area in the city Rafina, near Athens, a Red Cross rescue team had to recover 26 bodies. Casualty numbers have risen to more than 50 deaths and 71 adults admitted to hospital, 10 of them in a serious condition.
Twenty-three children were also being treated for injuries in hospitals, none of them in a serious condition, the Health Ministry's emergency operations reported. This was the deadliest fire season in Greece in over a decade.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared a 3-day national mourning period for those killed in the wildfires and appealed for international help through the European Union. Spain sent two firefighting aircraft while Cyprus was despatching 60 firefighters to assist. Israel and Turkey both also offered assistance.
The fires were still raging and even though most of them could be quickly extinguished, as reported by the fire department, ten were still burning on July 24th, including blazes in Corinth, Crete and in central and northern Greece. More than 400 firefighters and volunteer firefighters were also still battling the two twin fires near Athens.
More than 700 people have been brought to safety with boats, mostly from beaches and the coastline. Some were rescued at sea, after they managed to escape from the flames by swimming out, AP reported.
The 26 people, who died in Mati, were found in a field, only 20 metres from the edge of the sea. This led responders to believe that the group had been trying to reach the water but had been cut off.
Survivors are telling horrific stories about the loss of everything they owned and how difficult it was to reach the water due to cliffs, rocky coastlines and unpredictable wind gusts.
The fate of many from the region is still unknown. Authorities have counted almost 200 missing persons. Temperatures are around 40 degrees Celsius and heavy winds have been complicating efforts to bring the situation under control.
The bodies were being transported to Goudi, a district of Athens, but the police fear it could be difficult to identify victims based on the severity of their burns.