Wildfires Death Toll in Greece Reaches 80, Many Remain Missing
At least 80 people have been killed by the wildfires that erupted earlier this week on the Attica Peninsula near Greece’s capital Athens, with hundreds more injured and many remaining missing.
The wildfires broke out near the port town of Rafina, 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the east of Athens, and at Kineta, 55 kilometers (35 miles) to the west. Hundreds were trapped by the fires at the resort of Mati on Monday night, and many were burned to death.
The death of an injured person in hospital brought the death toll to 80, the Greek fire brigade announced on Wednesday, as cited by Kathimerini.
The service was also receiving dozens of calls reporting missing persons, but it was unclear if some of them were among those found dead, a spokesperson told Reuters.
About 40 people are believed to be missing, with Greek rescue teams seeking clues on their whereabouts on Wednesday.
Many of the corpses remain unidentified, with post-mortems and identification procedures taking place at a morgue at Shisto, west of Athens.
“Work has started on identifying the victims of the wildfires but the majority of the bodies are totally charred,” Grigoris Leon, head of the Hellenic Society of Forensic Medicine, told Reuters.
Leon said the identification would involve team work by coroners, forensic dentistry experts from the Athens University’s Dental School, and the police forensic service.
Greek daily newspaper Ethnos described the wildfires calamity around Athens as “Armaggeddon” in its frontpage headline.
The cause of the deadly wildfires on the Attica Peninsula remain unknown. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared on Tuesday three days of mourning for the casualties of the natural calamity.
A cleric from the Greek Orthodox church, Bishop Amvrosios of Kalavryta, accused Tsipras himself for the wildfires, stating in a post that they were the wrath of God because the Greek Prime Minister is a stated atheist. The Greek church distanced itself from the Bishop’s comments.
The wildfires on the Attica Peninsula are the deadliest Greece has seen since 2007 when over 60 people were killed in the southern part of Peloponnese.
Wildfires are not an uncommon phenomenon in the country because of the hot and dry summers with temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
(Banner image: TV grab from Skai)