11 July 2024

Greece’s Prime Minister  Alexis Tsipras told of the “unspeakable tragedy” the country faced after at least 74 people were killed by wildfires that swept through a resort, trapping people in cars and on the edge of cliffs as others were forced to jump off to survive, Reuters reported.

The scale of Monday night’s devastation in Mati became apparent at first light on Tuesday.

Scores of gutted cars lined streets in the coastal town, east of Athens, melted by the intensity of the heat. Bodies lay on roadsides, and in one area, a group of 26 people were found dead – some locked in an embrace as the flames closed in.

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

The bodies were entwined and severely burnt, an AFP photographer at the scene said. They appeared to have been caught by the flames trying to reach the sea.

One of the youngest victims was believed to be a six-month-old baby who died of smoke inhalation. At least 187 people were injured, officials said, among those 23 children.

“ Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy,” Prime Minister Tsipras said as he appeared on television to declare three days of national mourning.

“ Greece is living one of its most difficult moments,” he said. “There are absolutely no words to describe how we feel right now.”

Flags atop the ancient Acropolis hill and parliament flew at half mast.