Greece was in mourning Tuesday following some of the worst wildfires this century, with fears the toll -- at least 74 dead and 187 injured so far -- could rise, as rescuers search for people trapped in their homes or burned-out cars.
The fires, which broke out on Monday afternoon, devoured homes and forests, forcing terrified residents to flea into the sea for safety, while pine forests were reduced to ash and charred cars lined the smoke-filled streets of seaside towns near Athens.
"Today, Greece is in mourning," said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning.
Greek media described the disaster as a "national tragedy".
The government has not yet said how many people were regarded as missing.
But the death toll could surpass that from the blazes which hit Greece's southern island of Evia in 2007 in which 77 people perished.
Out of a total 187 people hospitalised, 82 including almost a dozen children were still being treated on Tuesday evening, 10 of whom were in "serious condition", the fire services said.
One Belgian was among the victims, said Belgium's foreign minister Didier Reynders, while in Warsaw Poland's government said a Polish woman and her son also died.
Dozens of people were overtaken by the flames in their homes, on foot or in their cars. AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of humans and dogs.
The charred bodies of 26 people, including small children, were discovered at a villa at the seaside resort of Mati, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Athens, said rescuer Vassilis Andriopoulos.
They were huddled together in small groups, "perhaps families, friends or strangers, entwined in a last attempt to protect themselves as they tried to reach the sea", he said.
Winds of above 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in Mati caused a "sudden progression of fire" through the village, said Maliri.
"Mati no longer exists," said the mayor of nearby Rafina, Evangelos Bournous, adding that more than a thousand buildings and 300 cars had been damaged.
"I saw the flames outside the window of our hotel. I thought it would explode," said Alina Marzin, a 20-year-old German tourist who had been staying at the Capo Verde hotel in Mati on Monday evening with her brother and their parents.
At least six people died trying to escape the flames into the sea. Some 715 people were evacuated by boats to Rafina, the government said.
- 74 dead including six-month-old baby as worst Greek forest fires in a decade rip through the Athens region
- Rescuers say they found bodies of 26 people, apparently families, found huddled tightly together at one villa
- In the same village of Mati, people were burned alive after being caught in traffic jam while fleeing to beaches
- Ten tourists, including a mother and son, drowned when a boat capsized trying to rescue them from village
- Fires fuelled by 65mph winds and temperatures of 104F tore through communities in a matter of minutes
- Greece has asked for US drone to 'detect suspicious activity' as it emerged 15 fires had started at same time
- Interior minister has described the fires as a 'national tragedy' and a 'biblical disaster with human losses'
- Are you in Greece near the wildfires? Email email@example.com
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT