A plane flies over the smoke and fire coming the town of Mati, east of Athens, Monday, July 23, 2018. Regional authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of the greater Athens area as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside settlements on either side of the Greek capital. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The Latest: At least 20 dead in wildfires raging near Athens

July 23, 2018 - 10:18 pm

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest on forest fires in Greece (all times local):

2:55 a.m.

A spokesman for the Greek government says the death toll from two big wildfires raging on the outskirts of Athens has risen to at least 20.

Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said early Tuesday that at least 69 other people have been hospitalized with injuries. Many are in serious condition.

Greece has sought international assistance to cope with the fires near the capital, which have destroyed dozens of homes, burned cars and prompted tourists and Greeks to flee to beaches east of Athens for dramatic rescues by boats.

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12:50 a.m.

A senior Health Ministry official in Greece has confirmed that two people have been killed in wildfires that are raging near Athens.

Official Niko Papaefstathiou told state television the two victims were taken to an Athens hospital early Tuesday.

Public health officials say at least 25 other people have been hospitalized with injuries, mostly for burns. Three of the cases are considered life-threatening.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cut short a visit to Bosnia on Monday and returned to Athens to preside over an emergency response meeting with fire chiefs and government officials.

Two major forest fires are burning out of control on either side of Greece's capital, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke.

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11 p.m.

Greece's coast guard says a search-and-rescue operation is underway for 10 people, believed to be foreign tourists, who fled a massive forest fire in a boat and were missing.

A coast guard helicopter and vessel were searching the sea near the town of Rafina, northeast of the Greek capital of Athens. They acted after receiving notification from Danish authorities, who had received a call from someone in Greece saying they were among a group of 10 people who fled a forest fire in a boat.

The coast guard said it was unclear what type of vessel the 10 people were in.

Two major forest fires raged out of control Monday on either side of Athens, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke.

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9:40 p.m.

Fire officials say at least six people have suffered burns in a forest fire near Athens.

Fire Service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said all six have been hospitalized Monday but details of their conditions remained unclear. They were burned in a fire that was raging northeast of Athens in the Penteli area.

Malliri says three hospitals in greater Athens have been placed on alert to receive more casualties if needed.

Regional Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of greater Athens, as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside towns on either side of the Greek capital. Greece is seeking assistance from the European Union to battle the fires.

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9:25 p.m.

Greece is seeking assistance from the European Union to battle forest fires that have destroyed homes and forced thousands to flee on the outskirts of Athens.

Civil Protection Spokesman Spyros Georgiou told The Associated Press that the formal request would be made later Monday.

The decision was made after the greater Athens regional authority declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts, as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside towns on either side of the Greek capital.

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9:10 p.m.

Regional Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency in the eastern and western parts of greater Athens, as fires fanned by gale-force winds raged through pine forests and seaside towns on either side of the Greek capital.

One fire was burning Monday northeast of Athens in the Penteli area, moving into the town of Rafina. In nearby Mati, the coast guard was sending a patrol boat to evacuate people trapped on a beach by the flames.

The second wildfire was ravaging mountainous pine forests 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Athens. The blaze has created such thick smoke that the main highways between the Peloponnese and the Greek mainland have been shut down and an orange haze has descended on Athens.

Regional governor Rena Dourou called the state of emergency in East and West Attica and was providing buses, water trucks and machinery to help battle the fires.

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1:30 p.m.

Two major forest fires are raging out of control on either side of the Greek capital Monday, burning houses, prompting residents to flee and turning the sky over Athens a hazy orange from the smoke. Some people were reported to be trapped on a beach by the flames.

The first fire broke out in a pine forest near the seaside settlement of Kineta 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Athens between the capital and Corinth. At least 150 firefighters were on the scene while five water-dropping planes and seven helicopters helped to fight the blaze from the air.

The second major fire broke out Monday afternoon in the Penteli area northeast of Athens. Local authorities said they were evacuating children's summer camps, while dozens of homes and cars were destroyed. At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with at least 50 firefighters.

The coast guard was sending at least one patrol boat to rescue people who called to say the fire had trapped them on a beach.

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