Frantic relatives search for missing family members following Greece wildfires

(Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)
(Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

Rescue crews and volunteers are continuing to search on land and at sea for potential further victims from Greece’s deadliest forest fires for decades.

Frantic relatives looking for missing loved ones have been heading to the morgue in Athens.

Those arriving at the morgue were being informed of the necessary steps to match the missing and the dead, including providing DNA samples and dental records.

A fire broke out north-east of Athens in the area of Rafina, a seaside resort of permanent residences and holiday homes popular with Athenians and tourists.

Defence minister Panos Kammenos, left, talks to local residents (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)Defence minister Panos Kammenos, left, talks to local residents (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

Defence minister Panos Kammenos, left, talks to local residents (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)
An aerial view shows burnt houses and trees following a wildfire in the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece Photo: Antonis Nicolopoulos/Eurokinissi via Reuters
Firefighters carry a stretcher filled with body bags, following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
People sort supplies for residents rescued from the wildfire in the village of Nea Makri near Athens, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
A helicopter drops water at a wildfire in Kineta, Greece, July 23, 2018 in this still image taken from a social media video July 24, 2018. GIANNIS LABROPOULOS/via REUTERS
People are seen as a wildfire burns in Mati, Greece July 23, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media on July 24, 2018. KALOGERIKOS NIKOS/via REUTERS

It swept through the area fanned by gale-force winds.

Hundreds fled to nearby beaches, with many swimming out to sea to escape the ferocious flames and choking smoke that killed 81 people.

Dozens spent hours at sea before being picked up by coast guard vessels, fishing boats and a passing ferry. Several of the dead were people who drowned.

The worst affected area was the seaside community of Mati, where the majority of victims were found, including 26 people found huddled together, many embracing.

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos visited Mati on Thursday morning and was heckled by distraught men and women, who accused authorities of not doing enough in the initial hours of the fire.

“People died for nothing,” one woman sobbed at the minister.

Maria Saridou arrived at the morgue in the Greek capital accompanied by her son to provide DNA samples.

They were looking for Ms Saridou’s 55-year-old sister, Eleni, who had gone swimming with a friend in Mati.

“We found her car, it wasn’t burnt, nor was the house,” said 60-year-old Ms Saridou. “It’s just that we can’t find her. I believe she’s alive… nobody knows where she went.”

The friend her sister had gone swimming with survived with light burns to the foot, Ms Saridou said, but they became separated in the chaos of the fire.

“We just want to find her,” said Ms Saridou’s 25-year-old son Asot Kostoyan. “Just to find her, nothing else.”

Press Association

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

(function() {
var zergnet = document.createElement(‘script’);
zergnet.type = ‘text/javascript’; zergnet.async = true;
zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https:” : “http:”) + ‘//’;
var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr);