At least 20 dead, 100 hurt in wildfires near Athens

Forest fires: Greece declares state of emergency, asks for international aid

Rescuers rushed to evacuate residents and tourists stranded on beaches as Greece battled blazes on the scale of those which hit the southern island of Ilia in Pelloponiso in 2007 and left 77 people dead.

"They had tried to find an escape route but unfortunately these people and their kids didn't make it in time". The bodies were huddled tightly together, some of them hugging, and were presumed to be families, the head of Greece's Red Cross told Skai television, according to the Associated Press.

Matt was completely devastated by the blaze.

"They caught fire. I ran out like a insane person, got to the beach and put my head in the water".

Evangelos Bournos, the mayor of Rafina-Pikermi, said the death toll is likely to reach three figures, adding that almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

At least five people died trying to escape the flames into the sea.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said in a televised statement early Tuesday that the death toll exceeded 20 while more than 88 adults and 16 children were injured. Of the 156 people injured, 11 were in intensive care, they added.

Mati is in the Rafina region which is a popular retreat with local tourists, particularly pensioners and children at holiday camps.

The Irishman who died after being caught in a wildfire while on honeymoon in Greece has been described as "outgoing and very enthusiastic with a zest for life".

White smoke rose from smouldering fires in parts of Mati early on Tuesday. Burned-out cars were scattered outside gated compounds where three- and four-storey buildings bore signs of fire damage.

Civil protection chief Yannis Kapakis said he had told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia to return home, that winds up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour were creating "an extreme situation".

Forest fires: Greece declares state of emergency, asks for international aid

Cyprus and Spain offered assistance after Greece said it needed air and land assets from European Union partners.

"Our thoughts go to Greece and the victims of the awful fires", French President Emmanuel Macron said in tweets published in French and Greek.

Fires have raged for five days in Latvia, destroying more than 800 hectares in the Baltic state's western regions. The fires are the worst the country has seen in a decade, the BBC reports.

Authorities said they would use an unmanned drone from the United States to monitor and track any suspicious activity.

Stavrinidis, his wife and four friends swam out into the sea to escape the smoke, but they quickly became disoriented, losing sight of the shore and being swept out further by the wind and currents.

Mr. Tsipras and Greek officials have expressed misgivings at the fact that several major fires broke out at the same time.

Fire Service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said all six have been hospitalized Monday but details of their conditions remained unclear.

A hillside of homes was gutted by flames east of Athens.

Evangelos Bournous, the mayor of Rafina, blamed the winds.

The Spanish government says it has sent two amphibious planes to help fight the twin forest fires in seaside areas of Greece that have killed almost 50 people and injured more than 100.

Nielsen wins 15th stage, Thomas still in yellow
Britain's Geraint Thomas (R), and Sky teammate Chris Froome are in pole position to win the 105th edition of the Tour de France . He tried a getaway while going up the Pic de Nore climb at 40 kilometers from the finish but was reeled in on the way down.

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