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More than 20 killed in Greek forest fires

By
Daniel Uria
More than 20 people died as three forest fires spread throughout in Greece on Monday, damaging homes and vehicles, and prompting evacuations. Photo by Alexandros Vlachos/EPA
More than 20 people died as three forest fires spread throughout in Greece on Monday, damaging homes and vehicles, and prompting evacuations. Photo by Alexandros Vlachos/EPA

July 23 (UPI) -- More than 20 people have died and dozens more have been injured as three forest fires burned in Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Monday.

Tzanakopoulos confirmed the death toll from the fires had risen above 20 and said more than 104 people were injured, including 11 with serious injuries and 16 children.

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"Attica is facing a very difficult night. The combination of western winds and multiple parallel fronts created an unprecedented and difficult situation for fire forces," Tzanakopoulos said.

Authorities called for assistance from the European Union and the United States after struggling to combat the simultaneous blazes due to strong winds and a lack of resources.

The first fire broke out in the Geraneia mountains near the town of Kineta, prompting three villages to be evacuated Monday afternoon.

Dozens of homes were damaged as the fire spread through the town toward an oil refinery.

More homes and cars were destroyed and a authorities evacuated children's summer camps after a second fire broke out in Pendeli.

A third fire started in the Cretan prefecture of Hania.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras returned from an official visit to Bosnia after being briefed by Citizens' Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, who said, "despite the adverse conditions we will do everything possible to bring the situation under control."

Toskas suggested arsonists caused the fire, citing the fact that another fire broke out near Kineta on Sunday near the site of the major blaze.

"Those fires are not so innocent," Toskas said.

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