We suspect arson, Greek minister says of wildfire
Greece said on Thursday it suspected arson was behind a devastating forest fire which killed at least 83 people and turned the small town of Mati east of Athens into a wasteland of death and destruction, Reuters reported.
In one of the worst Greek disasters in living memory, Monday night’s blaze trapped dozens of people in their cars trying to flee a barreling wall of flames.
“We have serious indications and significant signs suggesting the criminal actions of arson,” Civil Protection Minister Nikos Toskas told a news conference. He said police had testimonies to that effect, but did not elaborate.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that police were investigating how the fire started from three different locations at the same time, on a day when a second major fire was raging west of the Greek capital.
With the toll from Greece’s deadliest wildfire in decades expected to rise further, about 300 firemen and volunteers were still combing the area on Thursday for dozens still missing.
In a nation numbed by the scale of devastation, desperate relatives appeared on television to plead for information on those missing, while questions mounted on how people got trapped, and why no evacuation order was issued.
“This shouldn’t have happened, people perished for no reason,” a tearful woman shouted at Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as he visited the town and nearby fire-ravaged areas. “You left us at God’s mercy!”
One woman was still looking for her sister. “Nothing happened to her car, the house was not burned, so where is she?” Maria Sarieva said. “I believe she is alive. Where are they? They went somewhere. Where could they be?”