Athens, Greece | July 24 (Tirana Echo) – More than 60 people have died and hundreds more injured from rapidly spreading blazes of wildfires near Athens in Greece, forcing thousands of residents and tourists to escape through chaos.
People started panicking after a couple of small scale fires near the western seaside areas of Greek capital Athens were spread from strong winds towards residential and touristic areas, chocking entire areas which were blocked to traffic, forcing several people to flee by boat.
Greece has declared a state of emergency and has appealed for help from other countries to help its emergency services which are stretched beyond their normal capacities to combat the worse wildfires in its history since 2007.
Officials have warned the death toll could rise rapidly as fires have burned down entire residential areas with dozens trapped without an escape route.
EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker twitted he was “deeply saddened for the loss of so many lives in this horrible tragedy. The European Commission will spare no effort to help Greece and the Greek people.”
Neighboring Albania issued a statement through its Foreign Ministry pledging to help.
“Albania stands by our Greek neighbors in these difficult times. Rest assured of our solidarity & assistance that may help ease catastrophic consequences of such severe situation.” – the statement read.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras returned immediately home, cutting short an official visit to Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“This is a difficult night for Greece, we are dealing with something completely asymmetric,” – Mr. Tsipras said on Greek TV.
Wildfires are annual normality in Greece, but a drought combined with ghastly winds have made this a specially deadly occurrence.
While the city of Athens has so far been unscathed, its 3,7m metropolitan residents could see smoke and ashes across the city’s skyline.
The fires have so far skirted Athens, leaving the city’s ancient ruins unscathed. A blaze could, however, be seen from the capital, bits of ash fell on the city, and a pall of smoke darkened the skies.
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