Rescue Crews Search for Missing in Greek Wildfires; 79 Dead

(From AP News)

Rescue crews were searching Wednesday through charred homes and cars for those still missing after the deadliest wildfires to hit Greece in decades decimated seaside areas near Athens, killing at least 79 people and sending thousands fleeing.

There was no official indication as to how many people might be missing, and some took to social media and Greek television stations with appeals for information on their loved ones.

Survivors described dramatic scenes of people fleeing to beaches and being forced to swim out to sea despite gale-force winds and high waves to escape choking smoke and flaming pine cones raining down into the water.

Fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said the death toll had increased by five to 79. There were fears it would increase further as rescue crews gradually went through the hundreds of burnt homes, while others searched the coastline and the sea.

More than 280 firefighters were still in the area to the northeast of Athens in the wider Rafina area, dousing the remaining flames to prevent flare-ups. A further 200 firefighters backed up by a water-dropping helicopter were tackling the second forest fire west of the capital, near Agioi Theodori, where local authorities pre-emptively evacuated three communities, a children’s summer camp and three monasteries overnight, according to the fire department.

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