Belfast Telegraph

Irish couple tell of desperate bid to escape Greek wildfires

By Pa Reporters

A young Irish couple caught up in the wildfires in Greece have told how they ran for their lives to escape the inferno.

Chloe Sugrue (19), from Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, and boyfriend Sean Davis (21), from Finglas, Dublin, were enjoying their first holiday together as a couple when they were caught up in the disaster.

They were on their second day in the resort of Mati when the wildfires began to rage in the mountains above the hotel where they were staying.

At least 83 people have died in the tragedy and the search for the missing continues.

Sorrow has turned to anger in the country as desperate relatives of those missing appeared on television to plead for help.

Some blamed authorities for the disaster, the country's deadliest blaze in decades, as one official suggested the residents of Mati should have been evacuated from the resort earlier.

"This shouldn't have happened, people perished for no reason," a woman in tears shouted at defence minister Panos Kammenos as he visited the village and nearby fire-ravaged areas. "You left us at God's mercy."

Last night citizen protection minister Nikos Toskas said that there are "serious indications" that the blaze was caused by arson.

Ms Sugrue told the Irish Independent that initially staff in her hotel thought that the situation was not that serious but it soon became apparent it was a "matter of life or death". She said: "They told us to stay in the hotel but then 10 minutes later they told us to get out of the hotel, to get on to the beach.

"The fire was coming from the mountain. We heard a big bang so we ran to the beach - we ran for our lives to the water.

"There were people running around us. It was very scary.

"The fire was fast approaching our hotel. We were wondering how were we going to make it."

She added: "Our holiday went from the happiest time of our lives to 'how are we going to survive this, how are we going to get home?'".

Ms Sugrue, who is studying childcare at Marino College in Dublin, and Mr Davis, a pharmaceutical science student at DCU, fled the flames and sat on a bench on the beach surrounded by distraught families, with many adults and children weeping.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of Independent News and Media (INM), Michael Doorly, has spoken of the devastating sadness that has gripped the company in the wake of the disaster.

Injured Zoe Holohan, who is recovering in hospital, works in the advertising department of the Sunday World which, along with this newspaper, is published by INM.

Her new husband Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp lost his life in the wildfires in Greece, where the couple were celebrating their honeymoon.

Mr Doorly said: "The chat and excitement around a happy wedding day last Thursday has given way to the dreadfully sad death of Brian, husband of our colleague Zoe who remains in hospital."

He added: "We are doing everything we can to support Zoe and her family."

Belfast Telegraph

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