Tributes paid to Irish man who died in Greek fires

Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp was killed while on his honeymoon in Greece

Survivors in Greece recount fleeing huge, fast-moving fires that killed at least 79 people. Video: Reuters

 

An Irish honeymooner has been confirmed dead after he was caught up in the wildfires in Greece.

Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp and Zoe Holohan were in Mati, about 30km east of Athens, when a devastating fire hit the small resort town.

The couple were married last Thursday in a small outdoor ceremony on the grounds of Clonabreany House in Kells, Co Meath. They had got engaged in the Portuguese resort town of Cascais in the spring of 2017.

On Saturday morning, the pair flew to Greece but, barely two days later, they found themselves caught up in apocalyptic scenes as wildfires swept through the town and down to the sea. They tried to flee to the safety of the sea nearby but became separated in the mayhem.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Mr O’Callaghan-Westropp had been killed in the blaze.

“The families would respectfully appreciate privacy at this time as we grieve and as Zoe makes her recovery,” it said.

Mr O’Callaghan-Westropp was a student at the National College of Ireland in Dublin where he was in the final stages of an MBA and had the role of class rep.

He also volunteered with Blood Bikes East, a team of motorcyclists who voluntarily deliver emergency medical supplies, like blood and transplant tissue, to hospitals seven days a week. The organisation said that it was heartbroken at the news.

Sympathies

“Our deepest sympathies go to the wife, families, friends and our Blood Bikes East colleagues on the passing of volunteer Brian O Callaghan-Westropp who died tragically in Greece,” the Blood Bikes East Facebook post read. “May he rest in peace. Ride on Brian.”

Ms Holohan, who works in the advertising department at the Sunday World, is in hospital after suffering burns to her head and hands.

The death toll from the wildfires that hit the Greek region of Attica this week had risen to 80 by Wednesday night. At least 187 people have been listed as injured, 64 of whom are still hospitalised, including four children.

About 100 people are still reported missing, although there is no official figure.

Firefighters were still battling fires on multiple fronts in Kallitechnoupoli , Kineta and Korith last night.

Mati was one of the seaside resorts that was ferociously hit, almost erased to the ground, by Monday’s wildfire. More than 600 people from Mati and Rafina, which was also badly hit, jumped into the sea on Monday night.

Many had to swim for hours away from the coast. The coast guard, fishermen and locals with private boats rescued most of them and took them to the local port of Rafina. Several people drowned, while rescue teams are still looking for others.

Experts report that measurements taken by meteorological stations indicated exceptional conditions in Attica during the wildfires, with gusts of wind that reached record speeds of up to 120km/h. The extreme conditions may help to explain why so many people, as well as authorities, failed to evaluate the danger in time and remained in the area until it was too late.