Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Irish man dies in Greece wildfire while on honeymoon with wife

Irish man dies in Greece wildfire while on honeymoon with wife

By early afternoon, the Health Ministry's emergency operations said 71 adults continued to be hospitalized, 10 of them in serious condition.

The death toll soared on Tuesday morning with a Red Cross official reporting the discovery of 26 bodies in the courtyard of a villa at the seaside resort of Mati.

She said the toll was not yet final since firefighters were still searching for victims.

On Monday, Citizens' Protection Minister Nikos Toskas suggested as much, saying that three or four blazes had been extinguished on Sunday in nearly the same area where Monday's devastating fire started on the slopes of Mount Pendeli before spreading down to the coast.

Police and search teams are said to be frantically looking for Mr. O'Callaghan- Westroppand other missing people in the affected areas, hospitals and emergency centres.

Evacuees were transferred to hotels and military camps, while anxious relatives flocked to the area.

"Residents and visitors in the area did not escape in time even though they were a few metres from the sea or in their homes", fire brigade spokesperson Stavroula Maliri said.

Yesterday Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning in memory of those who perished.

"Most visits to Greece, including to Athens, are unaffected".

"We are doing everything humanly possible to try and tackle these fires", Tsipras said.

Greece sought help in fighting the fires from the European Union.

Video footage showed inhabitants fleeing the fires by auto, with several buildings and homes damaged, as the region of Attica - where Athens is situated - declared a state of emergency.

People watch a wildfire in the town of Rafina near Athens on July 23
People watch a wildfire in the town of Rafina near Athens on July

"If I hadn't left, I'd have been burned", a 67-year-old resident who gave her name as Maria told AFP.

In nearby Mati, the coast guard was sending a patrol boat to evacuate people trapped on a beach by the flames.

At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with more than 60 firefighters.

Emergency services were banking on a drop in the wind but the forecast for the region - which has experienced temperatures topping 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) - suggest conditions would remain challenging into Tuesday.

Two major forest fires raged out of control Monday on either side of Athens, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke.

Winds of above 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in Mati caused a "sudden progression of fire" through the village, said Maliri.

Countries including Italy, Germany, Poland and France have all sent help in the form of additional planes, vehicles and firefighters.

Some 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of land have already gone up in smoke or continues to burn an area twice the size of the city of Paris.

Sweden is experiencing an unprecedented drought and temperatures have reached their highest in a century.

The Forestry Bureau said in a statement Monday that the value of the destroyed forests was 900 million kronor (87 million euros, $102 million). Fires continued to burn in other parts of the country too, with one on the island of Crete the most severe.

In Finland's northernmost Lapland province, fires have ravaged woods and grassland close to the border with Russian Federation.

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