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Greece declares state of emergency as fires kill 49

By Angus McNeice | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-07-24 15:00

A man looks at the flames as a wildfire burns in the town of Rafina, near Athens, Greece, July 23, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Wildfires have killed at least 49 people in the Greek region of Attica, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency in the country.

Highways have been closed and flights have been grounded in the region, which encompasses the Greek capital Athens. More than 150 people have been injured and 300 firefighters continue to combat three separate fires raging to the east and west of the capital.

Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a state of emergency and has asked other European nations for assistance.

"We will do whatever is humanly possible to control it," Tsipras told reporters on Tuesday.

Greece Interior Minister Panos Skourletis has described the fires as a national tragedy.

On Tuesday morning, Red Cross workers found 26 people dead in a yard in the coastal village of Mati in eastern Attica.

Emergency workers have used helicopters and boats to evacuate beaches while a search operation is underway to locate 10 tourists who escaped to the sea by boat, officials say.

The cause of the fires has not been confirmed, however some officials have suggested to media that they may have been set by arsonists looking to burgle abandoned homes.

The fires are the worst to occur in Greece in over a decade as Europe experiences its most intense Summer heatwave in years.


People watch a wildfire raging in the town of Rafina, near Athens, Greece, July 23, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]
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