Greece wildfires: 'Serious indications of arson,' minister says

Demetres Karavellas, director general of WWF Greece, which has warned for years of the deadly threat posed by wildfires and often advises local authorities on how to regenerate areas after fires, described the mayor's reasoning as "a lame excuse".

Satellite images and ground inspections of charred areas near Athens have led Greek investigators to believe at least some of the fires this week were intentionally set.

On Monday, fires broke out on the east and west coasts of Greece's Attica region, which includes capital Athens, killing 87 people and injuring more than 170. "We are troubled by many factors, and there have been physical findings that are the subject of an investigation".

Authorities have said the fire, whose heat was such that it turned auto tyre hub caps into rivulets of molten metal, moved with such speed that ordering the evacuation of the area could have resulted in even more casualties.

"Our sympathy is with the families and we guarantee that the search won't stop", she said. "Nothing happened to her vehicle, the house was not burned, so where is she?"

As a result of major forest fires in Greece killed 79 people.

Survivors of one of the worst Greek disasters in living memory, which hit the town of Mati, some 30 km (17 miles) east of Athens on Monday, heckled Tsipras' coalition partner, saying they had been left to fend for themselves.


Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous said an evacuation wouldn't have been an option, given the speed of the fire and the haphazard layout of the area, which featured small winding roads and cliffs next to the sea.

The study also noted that the resort had narrow roads, numerous dead-ends, and was poorly sign-posted, meaning visitors could not easily reach a nearby main road. "Courage Greek bothers, my thoughts and prayers are with you".

Germany's federal criminal police have sent a team of its forensics specialists to help in the process.

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

Mortuary staff in Athens, shocked at the sight of burnt bodies including children, were expected to conclude post-mortems on Friday after relatives of victims provided information and blood samples which could assist identifications. "Here, the main cause of death was burning, in most cases, the complete burning [of the body], so identification is very hard".

Thanassis Moraitis went to the morgue searching for his 90-year-old mother. But the intensity of the heat and the dense smoke forced many to swim out to sea.

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


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