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Ten tourists drowned when a boat capsized trying to rescue them from gale-driven forest fires which have killed at least 74 in Greece and which may have been started deliberately.
A mother and son from Poland were among the dead when the vessel flipped in the water amid rough seas after picking up guests from a hotel in Mati as forest fires tore through the resort, 25 miles from Athens.
In the same village, a number of holidaymakers and locals were burned alive, some of them trapped in their cars in traffic jams, as hundreds tried to flee the raging inferno, which also devoured more than a thousand homes.
Dashing to the water was the only way to escape for most villagers, but some – including families with children found clasped in a last embrace – perished behind a wall of flames and toxic smoke as the ‘lightning quick fire’ swept from the hillsides to the sea in less than ten minutes.
Charred bodies were found on a narrow road clogged with traffic in the village, which a local mayor said now ‘no longer exists’. Some survivors spent fraught hours choking on clouds of ash at the edge of the water as they waited for help and watched their town burn.
In the same resort, horrified officials found 26 bodies, apparently families, huddled tightly together in ‘a final attempt to protect themselves’. They were less than 100ft from the sea having apparently made a desperate attempt to escape from their villas – but ended up trapped between fire and cliffs. One girl died as she tried to jump into the water.
Officials have asked for US drones ‘to observe and detect any suspicious activity’ as it emerged 15 fires had started at the same time in three different areas near Athens – possibly by criminals intending to ransack homes once they were abandoned by fleeing residents.