Firefighter’s wife, baby among 93 victims of Greece resort blaze

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The Prime Minister of Greece pledged on Thursday to overhaul the national disaster response agency as authorities publicly named the people killed by the country’s deadliest forest fire in decades — victims whose ages ranged from six months to 95 years.

The list, which included four families, was longer than it would have been a day earlier. A 78-year-old woman died on Thursday of injuries from the July 23 fire, bringing the death toll to 93. Most were Greek, but there were also two Polish citizens, a man from Ireland and a man from Belgium.

The fire “deeply wounded all of us,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said. “But we have a duty to take a deep and careful look at everything that happened, to learn and to correct possible lapses.”

The woman who died on Thursday was the 10th person to have died in a hospital from injuries sustained in the fire. Another 34 people remain hospitalised, six in intensive care.

More than half of the dead were over 60, the government’s list revealed, and included grandparents who perished with their grandchildren. The victims also included five members of the same family — a 39-year-old chef, his wife, 38, their two children, ages four and seven, and the chef’s 67-year-old mother.

Burned cars are seen outside a damaged house in Rafina, east of Athens, after wildfires raged through the holiday resorts near Greece’s capital. – AP

In all, 11 children died in the fire. Among them were two sets of twin girls, and the six-month-old son of a firefighter who was called to duty that day and whose wife also was killed.

Tsipras mentioned the firefighter, Andreas Dimitriou, during his speech on Thursday to senior police and fire service officials.

“We must take all necessary measures so that we never again experience such a disaster,” he said.

Tsipras said the country’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection would be replaced by an agency that brings together security forces, the military, health services, academics and volunteers.

The role of the new National Agency for Emergency Management will be to organise disaster prevention efforts, to coordinate the responses to emergencies and to oversee the reconstruction of stricken areas, he said.

Setting up the new agency will cost about 500 million euros (USD577 million) and be paid for by national and European Union (EU) funds, Tsipras said.