At least 18 charred bodies have been discovered in the region of Evros north of Alexandroupolis, Greece as a huge wildfire is burning in the region.
Firefighters who discovered the bodies near the village of Dadia, northeast of Alexandroupolis, say they belong to migrants who illegally crossed the border shared with Turkey recently.
Police announced that given there are no reports of missing persons, it assumes the victims are migrants. The nationalities of the victims are not yet known.
Among the victims, there are two children Alexandroupolis coroner Pavlos Pavlidis said. After a visual (macroscopic) examination, Pavlidis told Athens-Macedonian News Agency, “There were a total of 18 charred bodies, all of them males and two of them little children. They were found in groups of two or three and at a distance of 500 meters, obviously as they were trying to escape, and some of them had burnt to death inside a sheephold.”
Greek police activated the country’s Disaster Victim Identification Team to identify the bodies.
The area of Dadia, which is located in a National Park, is known to be a favorite route for asylum seekers.
Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis expressed his sorrow over the migrants’ death, and condemned “the murderous activity of criminal human traffickers and all those facilitating them, and the trade of irregular flows, which threatens the lives of many migrants on land and sea on a daily basis.”
Evros, Greece hit by wildfires
Wildfires have scorched the Evros region for four days. The main hospital of Alexandroupolis was evacuated early on Tuesday, as wildfires engulfed the coastal town near the border with Turkey.
Σοκαριστικό video από το DRONE τώρα (01:50): Η φωτιά πλησιάζει το Νοσοκομειο. Βρίσκετε ακριβώς πίσω.
Σήμα εκκένωσης στην περιοχή από το 112.
— e-evros.gr (@eevrosgr) August 21, 2023
Dozens of patients accompanied by doctors and nurses have been transferred as a precaution to a ferry docked at the port.
Patients hooked up to oxygen bottles lay on mattresses on decks of the ship converted into makeshift hospital wards. Tents were also erected on the shore.
Wildfire breaks out northwest of Athens
Gale-force winds were fanning the flames of dozens of wildfires in several parts of the country on Tuesday.
A wildfire has been reported in Fyli near the slopes of Mt. Parnitha in the west Attica region. According to the Fire Department, the fire broke out at 11:56 a.m. in an area near The Holy Dormition of the Virgin Monastery.
A message was sent to the residents of Fyli via the emergency number 112 to evacuate their area and head towards Ano Liosia due to a forest fire.
— Vericum (@VMdesignblogg) August 22, 2023
Three fires have also been reported in the areas of Lakka Katsari, Nea Zoi, and Ammoudies of Aspropyrgos in southern Attica. These broke out on Tuesday.
According to the Fire Brigade, the three fires broke out close to industrial areas. Twenty-seven fire engines with a 72-member crew and two water-dropping helicopters are battling the blaze.
Greece is on alert for the wildfires
“The last 48 hours, unfortunately like the next 48 hours, are proving exceptionally critical due to the strong winds and high temperatures that are creating extensive fire fronts,” said Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vasilis Kikilias.
Since Sunday night, fifty-three fires had broken out across the country, including fourteen in the northeastern Evros border region alone, he added. The government held an emergency meeting with the heads of the fire department, police, coast guard, armed forces, and intelligence services.
Authorities banned public access to mountains and forests in several regions until Wednesday morning and ordered military patrols.
Wildfires in Greece
Last month, devastating wildfires wreaked havoc in Central Greece and the islands, leading to the compulsory evacuation of around twenty thousand tourists from the resort island of Rhodes.
Shortly thereafter, a water-dropping plane operated by the air force crashed while engaging in a blaze on the island of Evia. This resulted in the loss of two air force pilots’ lives.
Over six hundred fires swept across Greece, scorching hundreds of square miles of land and leaving thousands of tourists stranded. Recent extreme heat in the Mediterranean saw temperatures at 40 degrees Celsius. Experts have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires.