Jul 24, 2018

Dozens dead as wildfires strike Athens

Mati, Nea Makri 190 05
Greece
by
Elinda Labropoulou, Euan McKirdy, James Masters and Chris Liakos, CNN
,
CNN
Asimina Psalti, 87, sits outside the remains of her burned house in Mati, Greece, on Tuesday, July 24. Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis, AP
Asimina Psalti, 87, sits outside the remains of her burned house in Mati, Greece, on Tuesday, July 24. Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis, AP

At least 74 people have died in the worst wildfires to hit Greece in more than a decade, with some residents forced to flee into the sea to escape the advancing flames.

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The Greek fire service also confirmed that 25 people were found dead close to Mati as they tried to escape the fires.

At least 164 adults and 23 children have been injured in the blazes, which are burning in three main fronts in the Attica region, including one that is currently out of control near the seaside resort village of Mati. The area is popular with Greek tourists, in particular retirees and children who go to holiday camps there.

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So far 715 people have been evacuated, mainly from the area of Mati, according to government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos.

The fires are the deadliest to have hit the country since blazes that burned through the southern Peloponnese in August 2007, killing dozens.

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Much of Europe has been baking under a massive high-pressure ridge that is allowing tropical heat to climb all the way to the Arctic.

Temperatures above 32˚C (90˚F) extended to the northern reaches of Scandinavia, setting records in Sweden, Finland and Norway for stations above the Arctic Circle.

The result has been a string of unprecedented wildfires in Sweden that have prompted the country to request assistance from other nations such as Italy, with more resources to fight wildfires.