Terrifying Footage Shows People Take To The Sea To Avoid Greek Wildfires

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Greek residents take refuge in the sea to avoid wildfires.Reuters

This is the harrowing moment dozens of people took refuge in the sea as a final attempt to survive as wildfires engulf much of Greece.

So far the destructive fires have claimed the lives of at least 83 people, The seaside village of Mati, to the east of Athens, is one of the worst areas hit.

This particular video, which was shot on Monday 23, shows dozens of people huddled in the sea, as smoke billows around them, in a last ditch effort to save themselves and their loved ones from the fire.

Officials have claimed that while 83 people have died, the number is expected to rise. A further 1,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged and at least 300 vehicles have been burned.

Shockingly, the wildfires, which are believed to have been started by arson, have seen people trapped in their cars or stranded on the edge of cliffs – with no other choice but to jump to escape the burning.

Despite the fires being claimed to have began via arson, the former finance minister to the Greek Prime Minister, Yanis Varoufakis has a different opinion, according to The Guardian.

He said in a recent interview:

Greek governments have traditionally found it convenient to blame profiteers, arsonists, terrorists, and even foreign agents.

With such incendiary claims … officials avoid having to admit their lack of preparedness and their failure to adopt and enforce appropriate laws and safety regulations.

Greek residents take refuge in the sea to avoid wildfires.Reuters

Dimitris Stathopoulos, who leads the 12,500-strong Federation of Firefighters, echoed Varoufakis’ argument, claiming that austerity and cuts had led to Greece’s inability to tackle the fires properly and immediately.

He said:

The government might be saying there were no grave operational mistakes, but what it isn’t saying is that there were thousands of small mistakes. All those mistakes make the big mistake and that is why we had such an unprecedented number of deaths.

About 15% of our fleet of 1,750 trucks are off the roads because they have chronic problems and are old. Another 15% are in need of spare parts which we can’t afford.

As firefighters we take an oath to protect people and their properties. We know when to recommend that areas be evacuated, but for some reason our recommendation was not heard. This is a huge tragedy for our country and apologies are owed.

As the wildfires continued to burn, two deputy mayors in Marathon, the area worst hit by the fires, resigned, claiming that their conscience did not allow them to remain in their posts.

Firefighters attempt to put out massive Greek wildfire.Getty

Another theory is that the fire started from a faulty cable at a utility pole – however as of yet nothing is confirmed.

The fires began on July 23 at 13:00 when a wildfire started west of Athens near Kineta. Just hours later and a second wildfire was reported to the north of Athens. As a result of strong winds at the time the fires quickly spread – trapping numerous people.

Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the Greek wildfires at this hard time.