Disasters & Accidents

At least 26 suspected irregular migrants die in Greece fires near border with Turkey

Athens, Aug 22 (EFE).- Firefighters have found the charred bodies of at least 26 people, believed to be irregular migrants, in a forest in northeastern Greece near the border with Turkey.

Rescue teams initially found 18 bodies, before a second group of eight people who perished in the fire in the Dadia national park were discovered.

Giannis Artopoios, spokesman for the fire department, said the bodies were of people who had “probably entered the country irregularly” after crossing the Evros River, which borders Turkey, and died in the fires that broke out in recent hours.

Artopios said that since no missing persons reports have been filed, officials were investigating the possibility that the dead “may have entered the country illegally”.

Authorities fear that in the coming days the number of deaths in the dense forest of Dadia could increase, as it is a common access point for irregular migrants crossing from Turkey.

Several villages in the area have been evacuated due to the encroaching flames, which have been fanned by high temperatures, drought and strong winds.

Artopios explained to the press that evacuation alerts had been sent since Monday to mobile devices in the area.

At least eight large fires are burning in different parts of Greece, the most serious being the one that started on Saturday near the port city of Alexandroupolis.

The main hospital in Alexandroupolis was evacuated Tuesday morning. A ferry evacuated 90 of the 204 patients at the General Hospital while the rest have been transferred to other hospitals.

According to ERT state television, some explosions were heard in the hospital compound, likely due to exploding oxygen tanks and other apparatus.

The clouds of smoke from the fire are visible in satellite images and have spread across hundreds of kilometers to the south of the country.

High temperatures, low rainfall and winds, which increase the risk of fires, will continue in Greece until Friday, according to meteorological services. EFE


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