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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Government helping Irish people caught up in Greek wildfires as death toll rises to 74

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 Irish Times are reporting this evening that an Irish couple has been separated while trying to escape the deadly blaze.

The report states that the woman is being treated for serious burn injuries in a Greek hospital while the man remains missing.

When contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not in a position to comment on that particular report and referred all queries to their earlier statement.

Earlier today the Department did confirm that they are monitoring the situation and

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are providing consular assistance to any Irish people currently caught up in the fires.

Irish holidaymakers caught up in the Greece wildfires have also been advised by the Irish Travel Agents Association to monitor news reports and follow instructions from local authorities.

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.”

Greek fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said that a further 164 adults and 23 children were still being treated in hospitals for injuries - on top of the 74 who have died in the fires.

Two main fires broke out on Monday, one to the west of Athens near the town of Kineta and one to the north-east near the port of Rafina.

Both were fanned by gale-force winds that hampered firefighting efforts and sent hundreds of people fleeing to beaches, where they were evacuated by boat late at night.

The Rafina fire appears to have been the deadliest by far.

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- Digital Desk, with reporting from PA