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  1. ITV Report

'I think my wife did not make it': Rescuers desperately search for missing after dozens killed in Greek wildfires

Rescue crews are searching through charred homes and ruined cars for the missing after wildfires devastated seaside areas near the Greek capital, killing at least 74 people and sending thousands fleeing.

One man told ITV News that he is worried that his wife is still missing in Mati, east of Athens.

Panagiotis Dagalos, his wife and baby were trapped inside their car surrounded by flames.

"The fire came here very quickly, we lost the chance to take the car and runaway... because the road is blocked," he said.

"The first thing we thought was how to get the baby and run away. But, I think my wife did not make it."

His wife, Calliope, is still listed as missing on an improvised website that has happened the names of those unaccounted for.

The fires spread at speeds of 50mph winds - cutting off escape routes. Credit: AP

A newly-married Irish couple have also been caught up in the wildfires.

Zoe Holohan and Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp became separated as they tried to escape the fires in Mati.

The pair got married at Clonabreany House in Kells, Co Meath, last Thursday before flying out to Greece for their honeymoon on Saturday.

The wedding of Zoe Holohan and Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp, who have been caught up in the wildfires in Greece Credit: PA

There was no official indication how many people might be missing, and some people took to social media and Greek television stations with appeals for information on their loved ones.

The death toll is expected to increase as crews search more of areas affected by the fires.

More than 280 firefighters are still in the area north east of Athens, dousing the remaining flames to prevent flare-ups.

Another 200 firefighters are tackling a second forest fire west of Athens, where local authorities pre-emptively evacuated three nearby communities overnight, according to the fire department.

Fuelled by 50mph winds that frequently changed direction, the fires spread at speeds that surprised many, trapping hundreds on beaches and cutting off escape routes.

Burned out cars line the streets in Mati. Credit: AP

All the casualties appeared to be from the fire near Rafina, a popular seaside area that is a mix of permanent residences and holiday homes. The blaze broke out on Monday afternoon during a hot, dry spell but the cause was not immediately clear.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning. Apart from the dead, who included children, hospitals treated 187 people, most for burns, with 10 listed in serious condition.

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

Red Cross rescuers said they appeared to be families or groups of friends because they were found hugging in groups of threes and fours.

Drone footage shows the effect on the surrounding homes

“We couldn’t see any fire. The fire came suddenly. There was so much wind, we didn’t realise how it happened,” said Anna Kiriazova, 56, who survived with her husband by shutting themselves in their house instead of trying to flee through the flames.

She said they doused their house in the Mati area, near Rafina, with water from a garden hose, and credited the fact that their window frames were metal instead of wood for their home being spared.

“We shut ourselves in the house, we closed the shutters, we had towels over our faces. The inferno lasted about an hour. I have no words to describe what we lived through.”

People stand amid the charred remains of cars in Mati. Credit: AP

Her 65-year-old husband, Theodoros Christopoulos, said the couple decided to take shelter in their home because the narrow roads outside were jammed with cars.

“There was a great panic because the whole street was blocked by cars,” he said. “Shouting, hysteria, they could see the fire was coming with the wind. It already smelled a lot, the sky was black overhead and in no time at all the fire was here.”

Hundreds of others abandoned cars and fled to nearby beaches, from where they were evacuated hours later by coastguard and private boats. Dozens swam out to sea despite rough weather to escape the intense heat and choking smoke.