We suspect arson, Greek minister says of wildfire

29 July, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • A burned car is stuck under a burned tree following a wildfire in Neos Voutzas near Athens

At a morgue in Athens where identification efforts were centered, relatives were informed about the steps needed to match the bodies held there to a missing person, including providing DNA samples and dental records.

"This is a hard process, more hard than other mass disasters we have dealt with", said coroner Nikolaos Kalogrias, adding that the bodies of most of the victims were completely charred.

The head of the Athens forensics department has said all post-mortem examinations on the dozens of people who died in Greece's wildfires have been completed, although the identification process continues. The team members have worked on major disasters, including the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2002 mid-air collision of a Russian charter flight and a DHL cargo plane over southern Germany that killed 71 people.

Rescue crews are continuing a house-by-house search of the burnt area while coast guard and volunteer divers scour the sea for any other potential victims. But the intensity of the heat and the dense smoke forced many to swim out to sea.

According to the ministry, a total of 51 people are receiving treatment at the hospital, of which four are children.

"I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to my mother".

They said the fires spread because of dry conditions, strong winds and bad construction planning that hampered escapes.

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Mr Kammenos was confronted by angry locals as he visited areas devastated by fires east of Athens this week.

A separate wildfire broke out in another area close to Athens, though its cause may not be arson-related. Public order minister Nikos Toskas defended the response to the emergency in a news conference on Thursday night. "A day after the tragedy, mainly to have my conscience clear and not because of mistakes, I offered my resignation to the prime minister, who told me it's a time to fight", Toskas told reporters on Thursday.

"Why didn't they protect the people by implementing on time the available plan for an organised and coordinated evacuation in the areas that were threatened?" she said.

DW's Charlotte Chelsom-Pill, who is in Mati, said people from across the region have donated food and clothes to those rendered homeless by the fires.

Meanwhile, the government said the deadliest blaze in over a decade in Greece was most probably the result of a well prepared plan by arsonists.

No alarm was sounded to warn residents or tourists, and no evacuation was organised from the coastal resorts of Maki and Kokkino Limanaki and the village of Neos Voutzas just inland.

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