Hellenic Red Cross volunteers carry out search and rescue work in the devastated village of Mati, some 30km east of Athens.

Photo: Nick Paleologos/SOOC

 

As wildfires continue to threaten Greece’s Attica region, Red Cross volunteers are supporting the search for dozens of missing people and comforting the survivors.

It is estimated that at least 74 people have died in the disaster and more than a hundred have been injured, some critically. The Hellenic Red Cross has been responding since the outset, providing first aid, relief supplies, and psychosocial support to the traumatised survivors and emergency services.

The country has suffered 14 wildfire outbreaks on three fronts since Monday 23 July – the worst in 100 years – and a state of emergency has been declared. The first fire began on Monday in the Gerania mountains in the west of Attica, in the settlement of Kineta. This was followed by a second wildfire in the region of Rafina, which almost completely destroyed the village of Mati.

Georgia Trismpioti, a senior humanitarian affairs officer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Athens, said: “Hellenic Red Cross volunteers are continuing to provide first aid and search and rescue activities in and around Mati, and they have been there since the very first hours of this devastating wildfire.

“Right now, the most pressing issue is the missing people. We are very concerned about these people.

“The survivors have experienced terrible situations and are in a state of shock. They are suffering because they have lost contact with their loved ones. They don’t know where they are, and if they are safe. Everyone involved will need long-term support to recover from what they have been through, and the Hellenic Red Cross and IFRC are working closely with the authorities to make sure they get all the support that they need.”

The severity of the disaster has been attributed to high temperatures and strong winds, as well as the high density of the forest in the affected areas.