Greek seaside town remembers lives lost to wildfire

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras is facing fierce recriminations for the government’s response to the fire

Destroyed  cars  after fire swept through the Mati area, 30km east of Athens. killed at least 88 people. Photograph: EPA/Pantelis Saitas

Destroyed cars after fire swept through the Mati area, 30km east of Athens. killed at least 88 people. Photograph: EPA/Pantelis Saitas

 

Mourners gathered in a church in the Greek coastal town of Mati on Sunday where they wept and lit candles in memory of those killed when a massive wildfire swept through the popular resort near Athens last week.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras is facing fierce recriminations for the government’s response to the fire, and has promised a national plan to avoid a repeat of the disaster.

Rescue crews are still looking for survivors of the blaze which began last Monday in Mati, 30km east of Athens, and killed at least 88 people and injured dozens more. Downpours hit the region over the weekend, causing flash floods in places, hampering search efforts.

“Some people survived but for those who died I wish they are well in heaven,” said 77-year old Theano Tsikoulou. “Fires were burning everywhere, my husband and I were going and putting them out so that our house would not be burnt,” she said.

Tsipras accepted full political responsibility for the disaster on Friday, and pledged a series of changes, including on illegal and haphazard construction which is thought to have worsened the blaze.

The main opposition New Democracy party, which leads in the polls, called on the government on Sunday to say exactly how many people are missing, and criticised Mr Tsipras’s television appearance on the night of the fire as a “sorry show”. – Reuters