Work continues to identify the dead after wildfires kill dozens in Greece

Greece fire

Fires near populated areas in Greece are often blamed on arsonists believed to be targeting forest land for development, but arrests are rare.

Numerous dead were burned beyond recognition and the identification procedure, relying on DNA samples from relatives, is expected to take several days to be completed.

"This is a hard process, more hard than other mass disasters we have dealt with", said coroner Nikolaos Kalogrias, adding that the bodies of most of the victims were completely charred.

Rescue crews continued a house-by-house search of the burnt area north-east of Athens near the port of Rafina, while coast guard and volunteer divers scoured the sea for any other potential victims.

Germany's federal criminal police have sent a team of its forensics specialists to help in the process.

Hundreds fled to nearby beaches and jumped in the sea to outrun the flames and choking smoke. At least 187 people, including 23 children, were injured. They have also said that the deadly fire may have been the result of arson, and are investigating the source of the fire.

"I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye", Moraitis said.

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The defence ministry said the army had been called in to remove debris and dig drainage channels to prevent flooding in the fire-ravaged area.

When it broke out in the afternoon, most firefighting resources were already engaged in tackling a much larger blaze to the west of the Greek capital.

Recriminations have mounted about how authorities handled the deadly fire and why no evacuation was ordered.

Tsipras' remorse followed criticism from opposition political party New Democracy, which slammed the Greek leader for not apologizing at a similar conference Thursday. "A day after the tragedy, mainly to have my conscience clear and not because of mistakes, I offered my resignation to the prime minister, who told me it's a time to fight", Toskas told reporters on Thursday. But the same people who are angry now, when the evacuation order would have been issued, they would have stayed back and tried to protect their houses. "How can an evacuation plan be implemented on a settlement (built) outside of town planning, which cannot have places for people to gather", he said. The coastal village was nearly entirely obliterated by the blaze.

A satellite map of the area revealed the scale of the fire damage, showing that more than half the 12,760 acres affected were residential areas.

About 500 homes were destroyed, and the fire brigade said there were closed-up homes that had not yet been checked.

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