The coastal city of Mati in Greece nearly completely destroyed by fire

At least 50 people found dead and 'eight tourists missing' as apocalyptic wildfires trigger state of emergency in Greece

Almost 50 people have died in wildfires burning in the Attica region around Athens, in Greece's worst fire crisis in more than a decade.

Malliri said Tuesday that strong winds have fanned the flames, with the fires spreading rapidly into inhabited areas, preventing people who are in their homes or in their cars from managing to flee.

"We have received dozens of calls that are reported missing", - said in the fire service, adding that some of the missing may be dead.

Mati is a popular tourist spot for Greeks, particularly pensioners and children at summer camps.

Firefighters said they were battling blazes on several fronts and that gale force winds helped spread the flames.

"Greece is going through one of its hardest moments", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a televised address on Tuesday, declaring a three-day period of national mourning.

Most of the victims were trapped in the village 40km (25 miles) north-east of Athens, and died either in their homes or their cars.

"We were unlucky. The wind changed and it came at us with such force that it razed the coastal area in minutes", said Evangelos Bournous, mayor of the port town of Rafina, a sleepy mainland port that serves Greek holiday islands. Other were found in or near groups of vehicles that became trapped, much like the situation in Portugal past year when 62 people died.

GREECE has declared a state of emergency after wildfires killed at least 50 people near Athens.

Two major forest fires raged out of control Monday on either side of Athens, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke.

"Thankfully the sea was there and we went into the sea, because the flames were chasing us all the way to the water", said Kostas Laganos, who also survived the Mati fire. More than 170 people were treated in hospitals for injuries including burns.

The country is awaiting 60 firefighters from Cyprus and two water-bombing planes from Spain, the fire department's spokeswoman said.

Some blamed authorities for the disaster, the country's deadliest blaze in decades, as one official suggested the residents of Mati should have been evacuated earlier.

The death toll jumped to at least 74 Tuesday, according to fire officials.

Many people on the beaches were forced to swim out due to the ferocity of the fire, Halil said.

Of the injured adults, 71 remained in hospital last night, with ten of them said to be in serious condition, while 11 of the children also remain in hospital. "By instinct I said to myself that this is it".

An ominous cloud of black-orange smoke hung over the Acropolis hill and the Parthenon temple in Athens on Monday afternoon, but the fire posed no immediate threat to Greece's famed ancient monuments.

"It's a hard night for Greece", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said late Monday after cutting short a trip to Bosnia and returning to Athens.

Forest fires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summers, and temperatures recently hit highs of up to 40C.



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