Cries for help at sea: Fisherman describes Greek fire rescue
Cries for help at sea: Fisherman describes Greek fire rescue
At least 50 people found dead and 'eight tourists missing' as apocalyptic wildfires trigger state of emergency in Greece
28 July, 2018, 21:40
Fifteen fires had started simultaneously in three areas around Athens.
"I ran out like a insane person, got to the beach and put my head in the water".
Meanwhile, at least 156 people were hospitalized with burns, including 11 in critical condition, the Health Ministry said.
'We are dealing with something completely asymmetric, ' Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, looking pale, said after cutting short a visit to Bosnia.
Greece endures wildfires every year but the fires that broke out on Monday were the deadliest to hit the country in decades.
Firefighters said that while the fire was no longer spreading around Mati on Tuesday, another blaze was raging in the beach town of Kineta, 50 kilometres west of the capital.
Working through the night, coastguard vessels and other boats rescued nearly 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.
For two hours the group struggled to stay afloat, until salvation came in the form of a fishing boat and its Egyptian crew.
Many people fled to the sea to try to escape the flames as they tore through towns near Athens, stoked by high winds, reducing pine forests to ash and devouring hundreds of buildings.
Almost 50 people have died in wildfires burning in the Attica region around Athens, in Greece's worst fire crisis in more than a decade.
Greece declared a state of emergency and appealed to its European Union partners for assistance in dealing with the fires, Efe news reported.
A satellite map of the area revealed the scale of the fire damage, showing that more than half the 12,760 acres affected were residential areas.
A fire brigade spokeswoman said at least 74 people were killed in the wildfires and the death toll was expected to rise. It saved my life.
"They jumped into the sea with their clothes still on", he said.
"I took my baby and ran to the sea, while my wife - I didn't know what happened".
To cope, Greece sought worldwide help through the European Union. Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkey's agriculture and forestry minister, said firefighting planes are "45 minutes away if there is a request and we are ready to intervene immediately".
In all, 47 brush and forest fires broke out across Greece on Monday and early on Tuesday, with majority quickly extinguished, the fire department said.
Rain is forecast for the coming days, which will help efforts to douse the flames after temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius on Monday. At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with at least 50 firefighters.
In 2007, more than 60 people were killed when fires swept across the Peloponnese region.
Outside the coroner's service in Athens, the mood was grim as people arrived to help identify their relatives and provide evidence.
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