Realizing Death Was Certain, 26 People Embraced

Missing man Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp and Zoe Holohan who were on their honeymoon in Greece

Missing man Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp and Zoe Holohan who were on their honeymoon in Greece

AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of humans and dogs.

Twin fires raging through Greece have killed at least 74 people as wind-whipped flames swept through forestland, prompting scores of victims to flee to the sea via clogged roadways as they desperately tried to outrun the rapidly spreading inferno.

Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced, " Nikos Economopoulos, head of Greece's Red Cross, said.

Residents wandered the streets, some searching for their burned-out cars, others for their pets.

Anastasiya Pontikas, 32, told CNN that she returned from the supermarket on Monday to find her home surrounded by flames.

While Greek authorities urged the public to contact them if they were looking for loved ones, many people took to social media, posting pictures of those they were looking for and their last known location before the fires hit. "Then the patrol boats came".

Fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri raised the toll from an earlier count of 60.

Çavuşoğlu said firefighting airplanes, helicopters ready to fly Greece if needed.

Speaking to local TV channel SKAI, Rafina-Pikermi Mayor Evangelos Bournos said it is feared the death toll may reach 100. More than 1000 buildings and 300 cars were damaged, the village turned into a smouldering wreck.

Here in Montreal, the Greek community is anxiously watching the story unfold, as many people are still missing.

Malliri said Tuesday that strong winds have fanned the flames, with the fires spreading rapidly into inhabited areas, preventing people who are in their homes or in their cars from managing to flee.

The majority of the casualties were found in their homes or cars in the seaside resort of Mati, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the capital, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said. Some of them have lost everything: "children, parents, homes", said Red Cross spokesperson Georgia Trisbioti.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras was away in Bosnia when the fires broke out, and has since cut the visit short to return home.

"Today, Greece is mourning and we are declaring three days of national mourning in the memory of those who perished".

Several European Union countries, as well as the USA and Israel, have offered to send help.

Emergency crews found one group of 26 victims, some of them youngsters, lying close together near the top of a cliff overlooking a beach.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission chief, tweeted that the EU "will spare no effort to help".

The fire in Mati village, some 29 km (18 miles) east of Athens, was by far the country's worst since blazes devastated the southern Peloponnese peninsula in August 2007, killing dozens.

AFP quoted officials who suspect that arson by house looters might have triggered the blazes. The fire was in the distance, then sparks from the fire reached us.

Authorities are already investigating into the cause of the blaze.

Additionally, a third fire burned farmland and woods on the southern island of Crete, while a forest fire burned in northern Greece near Soufli, and three smaller fires reportedly broke out in the area of Corinth in southern Greece. The deadly wildfires have so far claimed 50 lives.

Forecasters said conditions would remain challenging on Tuesday, although showers and falling temperatures were expected in Athens. Wildfires have caused widespread damage in Sweden and other northern European nations.

Many ran to beaches, but even there the fire got so close and the smoke was so thick that dozens swam out to sea despite the rough weather. One firefighter was killed on July 15 trying to contain a blaze.

Fires have also raged for five days in Latvia, destroying more than 800 hectares in the Baltic state's western regions.

Donald Trump's bailout plan for farmers criticized by some in GOP
Amesbury poisoning victim Charlie Rowley released from hospital