80 Dead in Wildfires in Greece Amid European Heat Wave
At least 80 people are dead and 150 missing after wildfires swept through Greece this week.
Winds up to 77 miles per hour whipped fire around the eastern Attica region on Monday and into Tuesday, The Guardian reported. Affected areas include the seaside resort town of Mati, about 25 miles northeast of Athens. More than 70 people were in the hospital on Wednesday, being treated for burns.
A supreme court prosecutor has ordered an investigation into the cause of the wildfire. The investigation will also examine allegations that there was no emergency evacuation plan in place and that emergency response teams took too long to respond to calls.
The Coast Guard rescued 700 people who were able to reach the shore before the fire. But because of the speed with which the fire spread, “Residents and visitors in the area did not escape in time even though they were a few meters from the sea or in their homes,” Stavroula Maliri, a spokesperson for the fire brigade, told Ekathimerini.
“The flames were chasing us all the way to the water," one witness told the BBC.
It’s estimated that more than 1,500 homes were damaged in the fire.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning, according to the BBC. A state of emergency is still in effect for the area, with all emergency services mobilized.
Europe is currently experiencing a heat wave, CNN reports, with tropical temperatures exceeding 90°F extending all the way up to the Arctic circle.
The blaze was the worst in Greece since 2007 when dozens were killed during a fire on the southern Peloponnese peninsula.