Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Greek wildfires kill 74, the deadliest blaze in decades

Published:Tuesday | July 24, 2018 | 1:35 PM
Burned-out cars are strewn along the roadside in Mati east of Athens, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Twin wildfires raging through popular seaside areas near the Greek capital have torched homes, cars and forests and killed at least 49 people, authorities said Tuesday, raising the death toll after rescue crews reported finding the bodies of more than 20 people huddled together near a beach. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

RAFINA, Greece (AP) — Wildfires raged through seaside resorts near the Greek capital of Athens, torching homes, cars, and forests as they killed at least 74 people, authorities said Tuesday.

Twenty-six of the dead were found huddled together in a compound, while a few bodies were recovered from the sea where they had fled to escape the flames and smoke.

Greece endures wildfires every summer but the fires that broke out Monday were the deadliest to hit the country in decades.

Fuelled by gale-force winds, they trapped hundreds of people on beaches, roads and in homes.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning.

There were fears the death toll could rise even further, as there was no definitive count of how many people were missing.

Although the fires had largely abated by Tuesday afternoon, they were far from out.

Hundreds of firefighters aided by water-dropping aircraft were tackling the remaining areas in the two main blazes near the capital.

One was northeast of Athens near Rafina, where most of the casualties appeared to have occurred, while the other was about 50 kilometers or 30 miles west of Athens, where some flare-ups were reported Tuesday afternoon.

Four other fires were burning in other parts of the country, including near Corinth and on the island of Crete.

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