彩神破解At least 24 dead in raging wildfires near Athens

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ATHENS, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in the wildfires near Athens has risen to 24 after four more bodies were found, according to the Greek authorities on Tuesday.

The bodies of the newly confirmed victims, including a woman and three children, were recovered from the sea area some 35 km east of the Greek capital.

Greek government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos confirmed 20 dead in the early hours of Tuesday, and among the victims, according to the Health Ministry, were a six-month-old baby and at least five more minors.

At least 104 people have been injured, among whom 11 were hospitalized in critical condition, the Health Ministry added.

Many victims who escaped from the flames and the thick smoke that engulfed their homes at the seaside resorts of Mati and Neos Voutzas rushed to the beach.

Some panicked and attempted to swim away amid rough seas, before dozens of Greek Coast Guard vessels and fishing boats reached the area to evacuate people to the nearby Rafina port.

A total of 689 persons who had been stranded on the shores near Mati and Kokkino Limanaki (Red Port) were transferred to safety, Deputy Shipping Minister Nektarios Santorinios announced Tuesday.

Two persons were still missing, he added.

At least 72 survivors were collected from the sea by the Greek Navy frigate "Elli", Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said in a press briefing.

Fears continue to grow as a yet unclear number of people has been reported missing, according to local media.

The only certainty is that Monday's tragedy is the worst one Greeks have witnessed linked to fires since the summer of 30007 when the country mourned over 3000 casualties in dozens of fires nationwide.

The most affected area this time, where all casualties and more than 3000 destroyed houses were reported, was eastern Attica.

The area was declared in state of emergency by the authorities, along with western Attica, where a large fire also burned a pine forest and dozens of homes near the resort town of Kineta, 3000 km west of Athens.

The third blaze to the north in the resort town of Kalamos, which broke seven hours after the first fire at Kineta and forced hundreds to flee their homes, was partially put under control by early Tuesday, according to the Fire Service.

Greece has requested European support to extinguish the fires.

In addition, "following the start of fires simultaneously in 15 different sites, the Defense Ministry has submitted a request to the U.S. for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to monitor the Attica region for any suspicious actions," Tzanakopoulos announced.

The regional government of Attica, in cooperation with the Association of Attica Hoteliers, has also taken measures to provide shelter to hundreds of fire-stricken locals, it announced.

The Greek government has raised questions about possible arson.