In a sweltering heat wave, wildfires raged through the resort town of Mati, Greece, claiming the lives of 49 individuals on Monday. Officials are calling it “a national tragedy” as fires continue to burn into Tuesday.
Mati is a seaside village where local tourists enjoy the summer holiday. However, due to a dry winter season and high temperatures, this peaceful area turned into a catastrophic disaster once the wildfires broke.
On Tuesday, the Greek fire department confirmed that 49 people were killed by the fires and close to 100 individuals were injured. Among those who were killed, a six-month old baby is said to have died from smoke inhalation.
In an interview with Skai TV, a survivor said, “Mati doesn’t even exist as a settlement anymore. I saw corpses, burned-out cars. I feel lucky to be alive.”
However, Mati isn’t the only town ravaged by wildfires. In fact, on Monday, other fires swept throughout the country, prompting people to evacuate their homes and to even close down the main Athens-Corinth highway.
Wildfires have also broken out near the Saronicos Gulf, creating ominous smoke clouds over the country’s historic capital.
The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said in a statement, “We are dealing with something completely asymmetric,” and the government is asking for international aid during this tragedy.
Both Cyprus and Spain have offered to send firefighters and water-dropping aircraft to help quell the flames.