Greece wildfire that killed 82 people 'was started by arson'

Greece wildfire that killed 82 people 'was started by arson'

Greece wildfire that killed 82 people 'was started by arson'

The house and private archives of Greek cinema godfather Theo Angelopoulos, who died in 2012, were destroyed in this week's deadly wildfires near Athens, his widow said on July 26, 2018.

Government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said "15 fires had started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens" on Monday. Another fire, which struck on the same day near Kineta on the west of Athens, will also be investigated to find out if it was "intentionally" lit, Toskas said.

"There are testimonies but I can not say anything more now", Toskas added at a news conference in Athens, which was attended by government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos and fire and police chiefs.

The small community of Mati, a popular tourist resort with Greek holidaymakers roughly 30km east of Athens, was among the areas worst hit by the devastating blazes.

An 82nd person was pronounced dead Thursday by a fire service spokeswoman, without specifying whether they were found by rescuers or died in hospital. But no-one was hurt in the flooding, authorities said.

Winds of more than 100km/h in Mati caused a "sudden progression of fire" through the village, said Stavroula Maliri.

Survivors spoke of harrowing scenes including entire families burnt alive in their homes.

An aerial view shows burnt houses and trees following a wildfire in the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 25, 2018.

"We don't know beyond that but knowing him we are surmising he perhaps saw someone who needed help and went to them".

But pressure is growing on the government, which is trailing New Democracy in opinion polls, as the death toll was expected to rise further and the questions on how people got trapped piled up.

"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 survived the Mati fire.

A website set up by residents lists 27 people still unaccounted for, including nine-year-old twin girls.

They were believed to be fleeing in a vehicle. Photographs taken later showed streets blocked by abandoned, burned-out cars, some with doors left open, suggesting people who were unable to drive out of Mati had made a decision to flee on foot instead.

The floods brought more chaos to areas devastated by wildfires that killed at least 82 people across Greece this week, with authorities now saying there are "serious indications" they were deliberately lit.

About 500 homes were destroyed, and the fire brigade said there were closed-up homes that had not yet been checked.

The widow of Greece´s most renowned filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos said the late director´s house and personal archives had been lost in the fire.

"Streets were not designed for such heavy traffic ... four thousand households and their residents tried to use streets that couldn't fit them all in".

But the government has come in for strong criticism over its response to the disaster despite a $46.5 million (40-million euro) relief fund for those affected.

"You left us to God's mercy, there's nothing left", shouted one resident.

Earlier Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told the BBC that illegal construction had contributed to the disaster.

"This coast of Athens, all these properties, the majority are without a licence,"he told reporters during a visit to Mati".

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