- Wildfires that ravaged several seaside towns in Greece are suspected to have been caused by arson.
- Climate change likely also contributed to severe weather conditions which exacerbated flames.
- 83 people have died in fires that engulfed popular summer resort spots near Athens, and dozens more remain in hospital.
Wildfires that ravaged several seaside towns in Greece and left 83 people dead are suspected to have been caused by arson.
Nikos Toskas, deputy minister for citizen protection, said in a press conference Thursday that the nature of the fires indicated deliberate human action.
“We have serious indications of criminal acts… lots of fires appeared in a very short period of time,” he said.
The BBC reports that 83 people have died in wildfires that engulfed popular summer resort spots near Athens, and some 60 people remain in hospital for injuries sustained in the blazes.
Hundreds of residents ran to the sea to escape the fires, which gutted houses and cars in its path. Dozens of people are still missing, BBC added.
Toskas said satellite image analysis and investigations on the ground may suggest foul play. He also referred to a “suspicious find” in Mati, one of the seaside communities in east Attica hit by fires.
But arson was not the only factor at play.
Earlier Thursday, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told the BBC that illegal buildings constructed by residents between wooded areas blocked escape routes and worsened one of the country’s worst wildfire disasters in history.
Toskas also said that “climate conditions” in the badly scorched surrounding areas were “extreme due to climate change.”
Across Europe, blisteringly hot and dry weather have fanned wildfires burning through the region.
According to a recent report from climate experts to the European Commission, scientists predict that extreme weather conditions will continue to fuel fires that could easily spread through Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean as the region dries up.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.