MATI, Greece (Reuters) – Greece mentioned on Thursday it suspected arson was behind a devastating forest fire which killed not less than 83 folks and turned the small city of Mati east of Athens right into a wasteland of loss of life and destruction.
In one of many worst Greek disasters in residing reminiscence, Monday evening’s blaze trapped dozens of individuals of their vehicles making an attempt to flee a barreling wall of flames.
“We’ve severe indications and important indicators suggesting the prison actions of arson,” Civil Safety Minister Nikos Toskas instructed a information convention. He mentioned police had testimonies to that impact, however didn’t elaborate.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that police had been investigating how the hearth began from three completely different places on the similar time, on a day when a second main hearth was raging west of the Greek capital.
With the toll from Greece’s deadliest wildfire in many years anticipated to rise additional, about 300 firemen and volunteers had been nonetheless combing the realm on Thursday for dozens nonetheless lacking.
In a nation numbed by the size of devastation, determined kinfolk appeared on tv to plead for info on these lacking, whereas questions mounted on how folks acquired trapped, and why no evacuation order was issued.
“This shouldn’t have occurred, folks perished for no purpose,” a tearful girl shouted at Protection Minister Panos Kammenos as he visited the city and close by fire-ravaged areas. “You left us at God’s mercy!”
One girl was nonetheless on the lookout for her sister. “Nothing occurred to her automobile, the home was not burned, so the place is she?” Maria Sarieva mentioned. “I imagine she is alive. The place are they? They went someplace. The place might they be?”
Haphazard and unlicensed constructing ― a recognized function of many areas throughout Greece ― was additionally blamed. Many routes to the seashore had been walled off.
“How is it attainable to have so many lives misplaced and never examine who’s answerable for such city planning chaos?” mentioned Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis.
Including to the distress, an space of Athens was hit by flash floods on Thursday, damaging scores of vehicles.
Exterior the coroner’s service in Athens, the temper was grim as kinfolk of victims arrived to submit info and blood samples which might help identifications.
“It is a tough course of, harder than different mass disasters we’ve got handled,” mentioned coroner Nikolaos Kalogrias, including that the our bodies of many of the victims had been utterly charred.
About 500 houses had been destroyed, and the hearth brigade mentioned there have been closed-up houses that had not but been checked.
The left-led authorities introduced a protracted checklist of aid measures together with a one-off 10,00zero euro fee and a job within the public sector for victims’ spouses and close to kinfolk. However for a lot of, that was not sufficient to ease the ache.
“A drop within the ocean,” learn the entrance web page of newspaper Ta Nea.
The fireplace broke out on Monday at four:57 p.m. and unfold quickly by means of Mati, which lies lower than 30 km (17 miles) east of Athens and was well-liked with native vacationers.
Firefighters described a speedy change within the route of the wind, which additionally picked up pace, and a few recommended the thick overlaying of pine timber and a temper of panic was a lethal mixture that may have been arduous to fight.
(Extra reporting by Alkis Konstantinidis and Renee Maltezou; Writing by Michele Kambas; enhancing by David Evans)