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The coastal city of Mati in Greece nearly completely destroyed by fire

The coastal city of Mati in Greece nearly completely destroyed by fire

At least one person has been killed and 25 others injured in forest fires that raged around Greece's capital, Athens, the Greek emergency services said.

There rescuers found the bodies of 26 adults and children, who had apparently hugged each other as they died, trapped just metres from the sea.

Many people on the beaches were forced to swim out due to the ferocity of the fire, Halil said.

Mati, 29km east of Athens, is a popular spot for Greek holidaymakers, particularly pensioners and children at summer camps.

Greece has sought global help through the European Union for extra aircrafts and firefighters.

"Greece is going through one of its hardest moments", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a televised address on Tuesday, declaring a three-day period of national mourning.

"I personally saw at least 100 homes in flames", said Evangelos Bournous, mayor of the Rafina-Pikermi area.

Twenty-six of the dead were found huddled together in a compound, while a few bodies were recovered from the sea where they had fled to escape the flames and smoke.

Over 400 firefighters have battled the blazes, along with seven water-dropping helicopters and three firefighting aircraft.

As part of a huge rescue effort, emergency workers have used boats and helicopters to fight the fires and rescue people.

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One woman said she was looking for her brother, who had been returning from work when the fire broke out. A search for survivors who fled the blaze - including those who took to the sea - continues.

According to the Fire Department, 47 fires broke out in the country over the last 24 hours; 15 out of the total were around Athens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to the Greek authorities over the deadly wildfires the country has been facing and offered help in combating the blazes, the Kremlin press service said in a statement.

Some 187 people have been hospitalised, with 82 still being treated yesterday evening, including nearly a dozen children, most of whom were in a "serious condition", the fire services said.

Tzanakopoulos, the government spokesman, said 715 people were evacuated from beaches and coastline by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats. More than 700 people were rescued by the Coast Guard, Sky News reported.

"It reminded me of the eruption at Pompeii - exactly that - and I said, 'My God, we must run to save ourselves and nothing else.' It was awful". Greece has called in its entire fleet of water-dropping planes, The Washington Post's Chico Harlan reports, and it is also requesting global help.

Reuters witnesses reported seeing a hillside of homes gutted by flames east of Athens.

They include Irishman Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp who was on honeymoon with his wife Zoe Holohan in the coastal town of Mati when the fires hit.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said United States surveillance aircraft were gathering footage to try to determine whether the fires had been started deliberately.

Forest fires are common in Greece during the hot, dry summers and the country has been facing high temperatures recently of up to 40 degrees Celsius.