Half of fire dead unidentified

More than half the people who died in the fires that have ravaged the Peloponnese since Friday have yet to be identified, it was revealed yesterday. State forensic service officials have been cooperating with coroners from Patras and Nafplion to complete DNA tests on the corpses of victims so that they can inform relatives and funerals can be held. Of the 14 corpses transferred to Argos hospital, six have not been identified. In addition, 31 of the 42 bodies at Rio’s University Hospital remain unidentified. The Patras coroner’s service, which has been responsible for the corpses being kept in Rio, yesterday defended its use of a «refrigerated truck» to hold around 16 bodies which cannot be accommodated at the hospital. «This method of preservation of corpses, in times of crisis and mass destruction, is an international practice and not something for which Greece should be condemned,» the service said in response to press reports that have criticized the measure. Similar trucks were used after the attacks on the USA on September 11, 2001, and after the July 2005 bombings on the London Underground, the service said. Meanwhile, survivors of the fires in Greece are reported to have been flocking to Pirgos hospital where plastic surgeons from nearby Patras are on duty to treat burns sustained during their efforts to extinguish fires threatening homes and farms. Doctors from the Aghios Andreas clinic in Patras have set up surgeries in the Pirgos hospital where they are performing skin grafts for patients, most of whom have face and hand burns. Residents of fire-ravaged villages have been visiting the hospital since last Friday when the blazes first broke out. Dozens have already received help. Hospitals in Pirgos, Amaliada and other towns in the Peloponnese have also offered food, and in some cases accommodation, to hundreds of people who have lost their homes in the fires.