ATHENS – Two major forest fires were raging out of control on either side of the Greek capital Monday, burning up to 100 houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke. Some people were reported to be trapped on a beach by the flames. The first fire broke out in a pine forest near the seaside settlement of Kineta 50 km (30 miles) west of Athens between the capital and Corinth. At least 150 firefighters were on the scene while five water-dropping planes and seven helicopters helped to fight the blaze from the air. Reinforcements were sent from across Greece.
ATHENS – Greece was in mourning Tuesday following some of the worst wildfires this century, with fears the toll -- at least 74 dead and 187 injured so far -- could rise, as rescuers search for people trapped in their homes or burned-out cars. The fires, which broke out on Monday afternoon, devoured homes and forests, forcing terrified residents to flea into the sea for safety, while pine forests were reduced to ash and charred cars lined the smoke-filled streets of seaside towns near Athens. "Today, Greece is in mourning," said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning. Greek media described the disaster as a "national tragedy. The government has not yet said how many people were regarded as missing.
Mati, Greece - Late on Monday night, Giorgos Stabelos was sitting in his living room at home in the Greek coastal town of Rafina, watching the news when the presenter uttered a sentence that made his heart jump. Since the early afternoon, news had trickled in about wildfires spreading throughout areas surrounding the Greek capital, Athens, including Mati, Rafina and Kineta. But the powerful blaze had suddenly passed Marathonos Street and was heading towards the beachfront in Mati, a resort village some 29km east of Athens, where his son owns a taverna. He rushed out of his home and hopped on his motorcycle. At first, he could not find a clear path due to dense plumes of smoke.
A spokesman for the Belgian foreign ministry says a Belgian tourist was killed in Greece's ferocious wildfires as he tried to flee blazes in the summer resort of Mati north of Athens. The spokesman, who spoke to the Associated Press Thursday on customary condition of anonymity, said the tourist was among a larger group staying at an area hotel that was ordered evacuated to the nearby sea as the flames approached. But he said the exact circumstances under which the Belgian man died during Monday's blaze are unclear. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders had confirmed the man's death in post on his personal Twitter account on Wednesday. Reynders said that the Belgian embassy in Athens is assisting the man's "young son and family."