Belfast Telegraph

Government helping Irish people caught up in Greek wildfires

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was providing consular assistance to a number of people.

Government officials are providing help to a number of Irish people caught up in wildfires sweeping through Greek towns which have killed more than 70 people.

The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to confirm whether Irish citizens have been injured in the fires outside Athens, but confirmed it was providing consular assistance to a number of Irish people.

The number of people who have died in the forest fires that raged through holiday resorts has increased to 74.

Fires started west of Athens near the town of Kineta, while further outbreaks started in Rafina.

Hundreds of people ran to beaches as gale-force winds exacerbated the fires.

Twenty-six of the deaths were groups of families or friends who were found huddled together as they tried to escape the raging fires.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney issued advice for Irish citizens.

He tweeted: “Irish citizens in region should keep up to date with local media and follow advice of Greek authorities in affected areas. Irish citizens affected can contact Irish Embassy in Athens +30 210 723 2771 or my Department +353 1 408 2000.”

President Michael D Higgins said he has written to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to express his sympathies with the families of those who have lost their lives and livelihoods in the fires.

He said: “Following my visit to Greece and my meeting with him and the president of Italy and Portugal, I am very conscious of the resilience of the Greek people, who should be assisted by all of us in these difficult times.

“I offered, on behalf of the people of Ireland, our deepest condolences and our solidarity.”

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