Published on : Tuesday, July 24, 2018
State of Emergency declared as the devastating wildfire raged through the holiday resorts near Greek capital Athens killing at least 50 people injuring more than 150 including 11 in serious condition. The Greek coastguard rescued 696 people who had fled to the nearby beaches. The military and local boats plucked another 19 people from the sea.
The children from the summer camps were evacuated, while a patrol boat was sent to rescue people trapped on a beach.
This Gale-fanned wildfire becomes Greece’s deadliest wildfire in more than a decade. Hotels were shut down, highways were shut down and flights were diverted. The tourism here is deeply affected.
The government of Greece sought international help through the European Union as the wildfires on either side of Athens left lines of cars torched, charred farms and forests, and sent hundreds of people racing to beaches to be evacuated by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats.
The dry and hot winds reached 80 kph (50 mph) as the civic authorities of Athenes deployed the entire fleet of water-dropping planes and helicopters to give vacationers time to escape.
The military drones remained in the air in the high winds to help officials direct more than 600 firefighters on the ground. Around 300 vehicles are involved in fighting the fires.
The thick smoke and fumes from the forest fires has led to main roads being shut down, while an orange haze has settled on Athens.
Evangelos Bournous, mayor of the port town of Rafina said that the wind changed and it came in such force that it razed the coastal area in minutes. The dock area became a temporary hospital as paramedics checked survivors when they came off coast guard vessels and private boats. The operation continued through the night. The death toll rose further after the coast guard counted four bodies recovered at sea, a short distance from the fires.
But the fire posed no immediate threat to the popular ancient monuments of Greece which are dotted with thousands of tourists. But as it raged inland where children’s’ summer camps and holiday homes were hastily abandoned. The fleeing drivers clogged highways into the capital, hampering the firefighting effort, and flecks of ash swirled onto central Athens. Cyprus and Spain offered assistance after the request for European Union help was made.
The Greek Fire Service officials issued public pleas for residents in fire-affected areas to comply with evacuation orders and not stay on in an effort trying to save their homes.
Rafina’s mayor said he believed about 100 houses in that area had burned. The fire service was not able to confirm the figure. The army has been brought in to help. It is seen that fire is burning in northeast of Athens in the Penteli area, where at least six people were taken to hospital after suffering burns, said fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri. Another catastrophic blaze is raging through pine forests 31 miles (50km) west of Athens after starting in the seaside town of Kineta, where 220 firefighters and 60 fire engines have been deployed to control the situation. In November 2017, more than 20 people were killed in flash flooding in the area of Mandra near Kineta.