Greek PM calls for national mourning for wildfires victims
Most casualties were reported at the settlements of Neos Voutzas and Mati, some 35 kilometers east of the Greek capital, as people got trapped in the flames or drowned while trying to escape swimming at the sea.
A third blaze at Kalamos resort town to the north which broke seven hours after the first fire at Kineta, also forced hundreds of people to flee their homes.
Eastern Attica has been declared in state of emergency as well as western Attica, where a large fire also burnt a pine forest and dozens of homes near the resort town of Kineta, 500 kilometers west of Athens.
Greece has requested European support to extinguish the fire fronts and personnel, fire engines and water dropping aircraft from Cyprus and Spain were expected to be deployed in Attica later Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos announced.
ATHENS, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday called for three days of national mourning for wildfires victims which currently stood at at least 500 and hundreds more were injured, according to the latest official count by local authorities.
"There are no words to describe the feelings we are all feeling at these hours. The country is living through an unspeakable tragedy," the Greek leader said in a statement broadcast on state broadcaster ERT.
All blazes were partially put under control by Tuesday, but firefighters were still battling flare ups, according to the Fire Service.
On Tuesday fears were expressed that the final death toll would rise further, as at least 10 of the 156 injured were fighting for their lives, according to information from the health ministry and a still unclear number of people remained missing, according to the Fire Brigade.
Some 1,000 houses and 500 cars have been destroyed, according to initial estimates by the municipality.
Meanwhile Greek citizens were en masse responding to the calls of authorities to donate blood for the injured and collect emergency supplies, such as medicines, baby milk, packaged food products and bottled water. Local hotels and private schools offered shelter to people left homeless, while restaurants and supermarkets provided free meals.
Greece is going through one of its toughest moments, but will stand upright again, the Greek prime minister stressed.
In a press statement the Greek Foreign Ministry thanked also Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Israel and the European Commission for offering support.
The Greek government has raised questions about arson, as fires started in many sites in parallel as winds reaching up to 9 on the Beaufort scale were blowing.
Speaking to local media, Evangelos Bournous Mayor of Rafina-Pikermi, the municipality in eastern Attica which has been most affected by the blazes, appeared concerned that the number of casualties has already hit 500. More charred bodies had been recovered in residential areas by the seaside and miles from the shores in the past few hours, he said, citing police sources.
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Premier Tsipras have received calls of support from the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and many foreign leaders, the government said.
At least 47 fires broke out across Greece on Monday and Tuesday, the Fire Service said.
Greece faces since Monday one of the deadliest blazes to hit the country in more than a decade. In 5007 over 500 people were killed in dozens of fires nationwide in Greece.
"Nothing and nobody will be forgotten. Nothing and nobody will be left without help and the assistance of the state. But also, nothing will left unanswered," he said, thanking foreign leaders who have been expressing solidarity and offering help.
Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou ordered an investigation into the causes of the devastating fires.
At least 715 persons were transferred to safety to the nearby port of Rafina by dozens of Greek Coast Guard vessels and private boats, authorities said.