At least 87 people have died, and countless are missing, after intense wildfires in Greece on Tuesday, July 24th. The rapidly-moving fires hit Greece’s southern coast near Athens, forcing civilians to run into the ocean to escape. Rescuers are continuing to search for the missing, with the death toll continuing to rise.
The initial cause of the fires is still unknown. Global temperatures have been breaking records this summer, and 75 mph winds made the Greek fire spread quickly. But Greek investigators are also reportedly exploring the possibility of arson. Supreme Court Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou announced that there will be an investigation into the cause.
The wildfire devastation is the worst natural disaster in Greece in over a decade. In 2007, 67 people were killed in wildfires in the western Peloponnese. 20 million euros ($23 million) have been designated by the Greece government to help with relief and further rescue.
The government is also being criticized for what some are saying was a lack of organization in evacuating residents. Roads were packed with people attempting to leave, and the immense traffic forced people to escape on foot.
This is just the latest in a string of natural disasters worldwide that have claimed lives. The European Environmental Agency has reported “an expansion of the fire-prone area(s)” in Europe, and “longer fire seasons are projected across Europe.” The fire season in Europe now spans June through October.