At least 74 people have reportedly died in wildfires in the Attica region around Athens, in Greece’s worst fire crisis in more than a decade.
A local official gave the death toll to media after fire devastated the seaside village of Mati, 40km (25 miles) north-east of Athens.
Fire swept through the village on Monday and was still burning in some areas on Tuesday morning.
Hundreds of firefighters have been battling the blazes and the authorities are seeking international assistance.
“We will do whatever is humanly possible to control it,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters.
Italy, Germany, Poland and France have all sent help in the form of planes, vehicles and firefighters, and Spain and Cyprus have offered Greece assistance, but with temperatures set to soar again as another intense heatwave builds, they are in a race against time to get the fires under control.
Intense wilfires on the national road Athens – Patras, Greece today, July 23! Near Athens. Video: Giannis Labropoulos / @Cyclone_Rhodes pic.twitter.com/C4fNzGK9r8
— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) July 23, 2018
Fires are a recurring problem during the hot, dry summer months in Attica. The flames this week were fanned by high winds.
Officials quoted by AFP news agency have suggested the current blazes may have been started by arsonists looking to loot abandoned homes.
“Fifteen fires had started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens,” said government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos.
Greece, he added, had requested drones from the US to “observe and detect any suspicious activity”.
The wildfires are the worst to hit Greece since 2007, when dozens of people were killed in the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
Help is also needed in Sweden where at least one person has been killed and dozens injured by forest fires there as soaring temperatures continue across much of Europe.
[Featured Photo: AP]