187 people are reported to be injured after the wildfires which forced many people in the resort town of Mati to flee into the sea.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on July 25, 2018

23 children were among those injured, according to reports.

Emergency crews found one group of 26 victims, some of them children, just 30 metres from the ocean. Some of the group were embracing each other when they were engulfed by flames.

“Unfortunately these people and their kids didn’t make it in time,” Nikos Economopoulos, head of Greece’s Red Cross, said.

The fire in Mati moved at devastating speed

Hundreds of firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze. The fire has been propelled by winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour).

Efforts to evacuate the idea were hampered by roads being cut by fire and thick smoke lowering visibility to dangerous levels.

Mati is a seaside village that is a popular location for children’s holiday camps and pensioners alike. It is located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Athens.

One survivor, Nikos Stavrinidis, told ABC News that the inferno was upon him and his friends at terrifying speed.

“It happened very fast. The fire was in the distance, then sparks from the fire reached us. Then the fire was all around us,” he said.

“We were driving along the road going into smoke, then all of a sudden the flames were at the side of the car.”

Stavrindis and his group made it into the sea and were rescued by a fishing boat manned by an Egyptian crew. Two members of his group didn’t make it however and are presumed drowned.

Greek journalist Liana Spyropoulou painted a vivid picture of the devastation.

“Nothing was left, only houses,” she told BBC News.

“I saw a lot of burnt people. The worst thing I saw was an old lady lying in her backyard, totally burnt, next to her wheelchair. She couldn’t leave.”

Three days of mourning for the victims of the fire in Mati, Greece

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning for those who perished in the fire.

“Today Greece is mourning, and in memory of those who were lost, we are declaring a three-day period of mourning,” he said.

“But we mustn’t let mourning overwhelm us, because these hours are hours of battle, unity, courage and above all solidarity.”

Other European nations have offered to assist Greece in its moment of need. Spain has offered water-bombing aircraft and Cyprus has made firefighters available.

Tsipras rushed back from Bosnia and was coordinating the emergency response from Athens. The government committed US$23 million to emergency relief efforts.

“We are dealing with something completely asymmetric,” he said.