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Greece wildfires: Entire family killed after they huddled together waiting to die

10:57 25 July 2018 Author :  

The devastating wildfires in Greece have claimed the lives of more than 60 people – including a family who huddled together as the flames engulfed them.

Rescuers in the village of Mati found 26 bodies, including those of small children, all huddled together at a holiday compound, some of them hugging.

They were found just 30 metres away from the sea, seemingly unable to find a route past the fires that ravaged the village.

It is thought the group were huddled together in a desperate attempt to protect themselves from the fire, which was being fulled by winds gusting at 60mph.

Evangelos Bournous, mayor of nearby port town Rafina, said: ‘Mati no longer exists.’

The two major forest fires are raging out of control on either side of the Greek capital of Athens, burning up to 100 houses and prompting residents to flee.

The first fire broke out in a pine forest near the seaside settlement of Kineta, 30 miles west of Athens.

At least 150 firefighters were on the scene while five water-dropping planes and seven helicopters helped to fight the blaze from the air. Reinforcements were sent from across Greece.

The second major fire broke out on Monday afternoon in the Penteli area north east of Athens.

Local authorities said they were evacuating children’s summer camps, while dozens of homes and cars were reportedly destroyed.

At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with at least 50 firefighters, the fire department said.

The coast guard was sending at least one patrol boat to rescue people who called to say the fire had trapped them on a beach.

The fire was burning into Rafina, with the sky above the nearby port that serves ferries to some of the Cycladic islands, turning black from the smoke. The highway to the nearby town of Marathon was closed to traffic.

Mayor Bournous said he believed about 100 houses in the area had been burned.

Gale force winds with strong, shifty gusts were hampering firefighting efforts at both blazes.

Tourists and residents had fled towards the coastline to escape the flames and choking smoke, while authorities evacuated more than 700 people by sea overnight.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has declared a three-day national mourning period.

Greece’s government said it has requested drones from the US to observe and detect any suspicious activity’.

It believes the fires may have been started by arsonists who wanted to loot abandoned homes. (Agencies)

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