House to house, crews search for missing in wildfire aftermath

House to house, crews search for missing in wildfire aftermath

In a scorched and blackened pine forest, Dionysis Tsiroglou and his team of volunteer rescuers are searching homes ravaged by Greece’s deadliest wildfire, looking for the missing.

“Their relatives are asking us to move mountains – ‘I want my aunt, I want my uncle, my son, my daughter, my father, my mother’,” he said.

No one can say how many are missing after a blaze that tore through the coastal resort town of Mati, east of Athens, on Monday, trapping people in their homes or cars and forcing others to jump off cliffs or into the sea.

Rescuers estimate between 60 to 100 people are still unaccounted for and authorities cannot confirm a figure.

The missing may be among the dead, the fire service said, their bodies burned beyond recognition. Photos, some of young children, have been shared on social media in an effort to track people down.

At least 80 were killed and scores were injured.

“We’re going from house to house, anywhere we believe there may be someone trapped, someone who burned inside, someone missing,” Tsiroglou said.

“So far, our search has been fruitless.”

Parts of Mati, a popular spot for Greek holiday-makers, mainly pensioners and children at summer camps, are now a collection of burned-out cars, their melted alloy wheels snaking along the streets.

Skeletons of houses with collapsed roofs stand in courtyards alongside a deserted playground, its slides and see-saws wrecked by the flames.

Inside homes, paint peels off the walls and shattered photo frames are strewn across mantelpieces.

“Owners are asking us to save whatever we can from their houses,” Tsiroglou said.

The team, volunteer rescuers from the western city of Messolonghi, were drafted in on Tuesday and have been working around the clock since, resting only for two hours on the hot asphalt, Tsiroglou said.

“We will work non-stop until the night falls, and tomorrow, until the search operation ends.”


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