In what looks like the worst Greece wildfire since 2007, hundreds of people have been injured and 50 are feared to be dead since Tuesday morning. All of the casualties are being reported from Mati which is a seaside village some 40 kms away from Athens.
A report quoted by AFP news suggests that the current fire might have been started by arsonists looking to loot abandoned homes.
Greece Wildfire – State of Emergency
Prime Minister Tsipras has declared a state of emergency in Attica and all emergency forces have been mobilized for rescue operations. He has asked other European countries to help Greece with helicopters and additional firefighters to tackle the fires as soon as possible. France, Italy, Germany and Poland have already sent in planes, firefighters and other vehicles to help manage the fires and save as many people and properties as possible.
Greece Wildfires are Burning Mati
Mati is located in the Rafina region of Greece and is popular with local tourists. When the fires engulfed the village it was buzzing with pensioners and children. According to reports atleast 104 people were injusred apart from 50 feared to be dead. The dead include 16 children so far.
Kastos Laganos, who survived the flames said, “Thankfully the sea was there and we went into the sea, because the flames were chasing us all the way to the water.” Another woman was quoted as saying Mati doesn’t even exist as a settlement anymore. I saw corpses, burned-out cars. I feel lucky to be alive.”
Highways Shut and Flights Delayed
The thick smoke that is emanating from the fire has resulted in shutting down of highways and many flights have been either canceled or diverted to other possible airports because of low visibility.
Greece is fighting against a gigantic natural disaster
The army has been called in to control the situation and more than 600 firefighters and 300 vehicles are doing their best to control this wildfire. Prime Minister Tsipras has said that they will do everything humanly possible to end this catastrophe and has asked people in the nearby areas to simply close their homes and leave.
Firefighters are currently fighting with two different fires, one that is burning northeast of Athens in the Penteli area and the other blaze is burning through the pine forests west of Athens. This fire is believed to have started in the seaside town of Kineta.
Wildfires are very common in the Attica region of Greece during hot summers. This week, the flames got out of control because of high winds and on Tuesday morning the situation got out of control. Interior minister Panos Skourletis has called this week’s Greece wildfires a national tragedy and “biblical disaster with human losses”.