Greek wildfires: Irish newlyweds among those still missing as survivor hunt continues

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There rescuers found the bodies of 26 adults and children, who had apparently hugged each other as they died, trapped just metres from the sea.

Criticism of rescue efforts mounted Tuesday, as some said officials misjudged the fierceness of the fire in Mati and instead focused on the Kineta blaze.

Hundreds of firefighters were battling the blazes as people left their homes.

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning.

Rescue crews were searching through charred homes and cars for the missing after wildfires decimated seaside areas near the Greek capital, killing at least 74 people and sending thousands fleeing.

A firefighting helicopter flies over a wildfire raging in the town of Rafina near Athens
A firefighting helicopter flies over a wildfire raging in the town of Rafina near Athens

Many of those escaping the flames and smoke - including tourists - fled to the coastline for safety. Besides, forests are on fire in other regions of Greece, including the Corinthia area in the region of Peloponnese and the city of Chania on the island of Crete.

A further 200 firefighters backed up by a water-dropping helicopter were tackling the second forest fire west of the capital, near Agioi Theodori, where authorities pre-emptively evacuated three nearby communities overnight.

Video footage showed people fleeing by auto as the tourist-friendly surrounding Attica region declared a state of emergency.

"You could see the fire coming toward you at great speed, and there's nothing you can do but leave", he said.

They were huddled together in small groups, "perhaps families, friends or strangers, entwined in a last attempt to protect themselves as they tried to reach the sea", he said.

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Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said in a televised statement early on Tuesday that the death toll exceeded 20 while more than 88 adults and 16 children were injured.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) extended its condolences to Greece after wildfires in a popular seaside resort outside Athens killed more than 70 people on Monday.

There was no official indication Wednesday as to how many people might be missing, and some people took to social media and Greek television stations with appeals for information on their loved ones. I said: "'My God, we must run to save ourselves'". About 700 people have been rescued at sea.

Italy, Germany, Poland and France have all sent help in the form of aircraft, vehicles and firefighters, while Spain and Cyprus have also offered their assistance.

A Polish woman and her son were reportedly among 10 people who drowned when a boat capsized during an evacuation.

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Flames have also broken out near the town of Kineta and the Penteli area.

Reuters witnesses reported seeing a hillside of homes gutted by flames east of Athens.

Although the fires had largely abated by Tuesday afternoon, they were far from out.

The New York Times said that wildfires are an annual occurrence in Greece, but a drought and a recent heat wave, with temperatures over 100 degrees, have helped make this fire particularly unsafe.

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