NEWS
25/07/2018 19:00 BST

Newlywed Irishman Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp Among Those Dead After Greece Wildfires

The couple got married last week and were on their honeymoon.

PA
Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp and his wife Zoe Holohan were on their honeymoon in Greece; Brian was confirmed dead on Wednesday

A newlywed Irishman caught up in the wildfires in Greece while on his honeymoon has died.

Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp and his wife Zoe Holohan were in the coastal town of Mati when the fires struck on Monday and became separated as they tried to escape.

O’Callaghan-Westropp’s whereabouts was unknown until Wednesday when Ireland’s ambassador to Greece, Orla O’Hanrahan, confirmed he was among the 79 victims of the blaze. 

His wife is currently being treated for burns to her head and hands in a hospital in Athens. 

The ambassador said: “Our sympathies and hearts go out to his family at this time.”

The couple, from Dublin, got married at Clonabreany House in Kells, Co Meath, last Thursday before flying to Greece on Saturday.

They were travelling in a vehicle when they were forced to flee.

Holohan was able to escape to a nearby beach and was admitted to hospital on Tuesday night.

O’Callaghan-Westropp worked in finance for a Dublin catering company and also volunteered for Blood Bikes East, which provides an emergency medical transport service around hospitals in Dublin.

Committee member Franco De Bonis said O’Callaghan-Westropp started off as a volunteer rider a year ago and very quickly became further involved in the service and became its secretary.

“Brian is a very charitable man – he’s one of these people who you know when he’s in the room. He has a big voice and he’s the type who wants to get things done,” De Bonis said earlier this week. 

“He’s a man of action and is very selfless. His heart is in the right place and will always want to help.

“Brian would never walk away from a situation knowing someone needed help.

“We are not surprised if someone was getting involved in this that it would be Brian. He would make sure Zoe is safe and then go to someone’s aid.

“While we know they were on their way to the beach and Zoe got to there, somehow he did not.

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

De Bonis said O’Callaghan-Westropp was “incredibly excited” about his wedding and looking forward to their honeymoon.

He added: “As much as men can get involved in the wedding he did, and he was really excited about it.”

It is understood O’Callaghan-Westropp’s family are travelling to Greece.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is providing consular assistance to a number of Irish people who have been caught up in the fires, but would not give details about specific incidents.

Blazes started west of Athens near the town of Kineta on Monday, while further outbreaks started 29km east of Athens in Rafina.

Hundreds of people ran to beaches as gale-force winds fanned the flames.

PA
Newlywed Zoe Holohan is being treated in hospital for burns to her head and hands

Twenty-six of the deaths were groups of families or friends who were found huddled together as they tried to escape.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney issued advice for Irish citizens.

He tweeted: “Irish citizens in region should keep up to date with local media and follow advice of Greek authorities in affected areas. Irish citizens affected can contact Irish Embassy in Athens +30 210 723 2771 or my Department +353 1 408 2000.”

President Michael D Higgins said he has written to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to express his sympathies with the families of those who have lost their lives and livelihoods in the fires.

He said: “Following my visit to Greece and my meeting with him and the presidents of Italy and Portugal, I am very conscious of the resilience of the Greek people, who should be assisted by all of us in these difficult times.

“I offered, on behalf of the people of Ireland, our deepest condolences and our solidarity.”

Theresa May also sent a message to Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday, promising the UK would “provide any support we can”.

“The loss of life and destruction in the recent wildfires in Attica and across Greece is tragic,” the PM said.

“The bravery of the emergency services and volunteers, as well as those so severely affected by the fires, has been truly remarkable.

“The UK stands alongside the people of Greece as they recover from these tragic events.”