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Scores dead in Greece as wildfires engulf Attica region

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A woman walks past burnt cars in the village of Mati- where at least 26 people died

In 2007, more than 60 people were killed when fires swept across the Peloponnese region.

Twenty-six of the dead were found after dawn Tuesday, huddled in a compound near the sea in the community of Mati, the worst-hit area near Rafina, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Athens.

The captain of the boat which the girls were on said authorities were recording the identities of those disembarking the vessel yet there was no trace of the twins.

The friend her sister had gone swimming with survived with light burns to the foot, Ms Saridou said, but they became separated in the chaos of the fire.

Mati, 29km east of the capital, is a popular spot for Greek holiday-makers, particularly pensioners and children at camps.

The 26 deaths came on top of the more than 20 reported by government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos earlier on Tuesday.

At least 150 people were injured in the area.

The coastguard said four more bodies were retrieved from the sea.

Twelve coast guard vessels, aided by private boats, rescued dozens of people from the sea and helped evacuate about 800 people trapped on the beaches of Mati and nearby Kokkino Limanaki, officials said.

He has looked for them at all the hospitals in the area, police stations and even a morque but finally had a glimmer of hope when he spotted them wrapped in blankets getting off a rescue boat.

It urged residents to report missing relatives and friends.

Families had to be rescued by boats after fleeing flames into the sea
Families had to be rescued by boats after fleeing flames into the sea

"You can't see anything in the smoke and fire - so much fire and so much smoke".

Video footage showed inhabitants fleeing the fires by vehicle, with several buildings and homes damaged, as the region of Attica - which includes Athens - declared a state of emergency.

'We are dealing with something completely asymmetric, ' Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, looking pale, said after cutting short a visit to Bosnia.

Two major forest fires raged out of control Monday on either side of Athens, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke.

Several European countries have offered to send water-scooping air tankers to assist firefighters, including Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Croatia.

It has been the deadliest fire season to hit Greece in more than a decade.

Government officials said they are providing help to a number of Irish people caught up in the wildfire. Sweden also struggled with wildfires in July, stoked by the hot, dry weather.

The Greek fire brigade says the death of a survivor in hospital brought the toll up to 80.

According to the Fire Department, 47 fires broke out in the country over the last 24 hours; 15 out of the total were around Athens.

The Greek anti-terror service is investigating if the fires were deliberately lit.

It was unclear what caused the fire, which spread rapidly through Mati, a maze of narrow streets and dense forest.

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