NEWS
26/07/2018 12:26 BST | Updated 26/07/2018 13:23 BST

Greek Wildfires Death Toll Grows As Survivors Desperately Hunt For Missing Loved Ones

Families are scouring morgues in Athens.

Rescue crews and volunteers are continuing to search on land and at sea for further victims of Greece’s deadliest forest fires for decades.

Frantic relatives looking for missing loved ones have been heading to the morgue in Athens, where they are being advised of the necessary steps to match the missing and the dead, including providing DNA samples and dental records.

A fire broke out north east of the capital in the area of Rafina, a seaside resort of permanent residences and holiday homes popular with Athenians and tourists.

The blaze quickly swept through the area, fanned by gale-force winds.

Reuters
Aerial view of the area after wildfires in Mati, Greece

Hundreds fled to nearby beaches, with many swimming out to sea to escape the ferocious flames and choking smoke that killed at least 82 people.

Dozens spent hours at sea before being picked up by coastguard vessels, fishing boats and a passing ferry. Several of the dead were people who drowned.

With the death toll expected to rise, about 300 firemen and volunteers combed through the area looking for dozens still missing, including nine-year-old twin sisters.

The worst affected area was the seaside community of Mati, where the majority of victims were found, including 26 people discovered huddled together, many embracing.

SOPA Images via Getty Images
A charred doll is seen among ashes after a wildfire north of Athens

Maria Saridou arrived at the morgue in the Greek capital accompanied by her son to provide DNA samples.

They were looking for Saridou’s 55-year-old sister, Eleni, who had gone swimming with a friend in Mati.

“We found her car, it wasn’t burnt, nor was the house,” said 60-year-old Saridou. “It’s just that we can’t find her. I believe she’s alive… nobody knows where she went.”

Her sister had gone swimming, Saridou – who survived with light burns to her foot – said, but they became separated in the chaos of the fire.

“We just want to find her,” said Saridou’s 25-year-old son Asot Kostoyan. “Just to find her, nothing else.”