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Greece: 20 Killed, More Than 100 Injured As Wildfire Spreads Near Athens

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| July 24 , 2018 , 09:49 IST

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 100 injured as a wildfire spread through the small resort town of Mati on Monday, near Athens in Greece. At least 100 homes and 200 vehicles were spotted to be burning.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos in a statement on early Tuesday said that the death toll exceeded 20 while more than 88 adults and 16 children were injured. The youngest victim is reportedly a 6-month-old baby who died of smoke inhalation.

The fire which began in the Mati village around 29 km east of Athens is considered to be among the nation's worst fires since August 2007 when dozens were killed in a fire in the southern Peloponnese peninsula. Mati, in the Rafina region, is considered to be popular with local tourists, particularly with pensioners and children at holiday camps.

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As the wildfires raged controllably in several places across the country, Greece issued an urgent appeal for help, especially for air and land assets from its European Union partners, to which Cyprus and Spain offered assistance. Greece also called in its Army on Monday afternoon to help fight the wildfire.

As the wildfire spread, the Greek authorities urged residents of a coastal region west of Athens to abandon their homes.

“People should leave, close up their homes and just leave. People cannot tolerate so much smoke for so many hours,” Fire Chief Achilleas Tzouvaras said. “This is an extreme situation.”

It has not yet been identified what ignited the fires, although in Greece wildfires are not uncommon.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cut short his visit to Bosnia in the wake of the wildfire situation, saying, "It's a difficult night for Greece."