At least 50 people have died in the worst wildfires to hit Greece in more than a decade, with some residents forced to flee into the sea to escape the advancing flames, according to CNN. The BBC puts the number at 60.
Residents told of horrifying scenes as flames engulfed a seaside village, where the only way out for some was to run for the water. Flames fanned by strong winds devastated the seaside village of Mati, devouring homes and cars.
Many calls have been made to the rescue services looking for missing persons.
Boats were mobilized in a hurriedly-organized rescue operation as the flames took hold on Monday night. Reuters reported that 696 people were picked up from beaches and 19 from the sea. Rescuers retrieved four bodies from the sea.
The Greek fire service also confirmed that 25 people were found dead close to Mati as they tried to escape the fires.
Mati is located in the Rafina region which is popular with local tourists, especially pensioners and children attending holiday camps.
Hundreds of firefighters have been battling the blazes and the authorities are seeking international assistance. So far Spain and Cyprus have offered assistance, and Greece has called on other fellow members of the European Union to help battle the blaze.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning.
Image credit: Getty Images