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On Monday, Greek authorities urged residents of a coastal region west of Athens to abandon their homes as another wildfire burned ferociously, closing one of Greece's busiest motorways, halting trains and sending plumes of smoke over the capital. Rescue crews have picked up at least 700 tourists from beaches.

Others were overtaken by the flames in their homes, on foot or in their cars. AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of people and dogs.

The charred bodies of 26 people, including small children, were discovered in the courtyard of a villa at the seaside resort of Mati, 40km northeast of the capital, said rescuer Vassilis Andriopoulos.

Twenty-six of the dead were groups of families or friends found huddled together, some of them clasp in hugs.

"Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said as he appeared on television to declare three days of national mourning.

"What upsets me and what I will carry in my heart is that it is bad to see the person next to you drowning and not being able to help him".

Her home is surround by dry pine trees.

But with temperatures set to soar again, they are in a race against time to get the fires under control. "Then the patrol boats came", said the 60-year-old.

The death toll climbed to 74 in the Greece wildfires that continued scorching the coast near Athens on Tuesday.

"Mati no longer exists", said the mayor of nearby Rafina, Evangelos Bournous. More than 1000 buildings and 300 cars were damaged, the village turned into a smouldering wreck.

Apart from the dead, which included children, hospitals treated 187 people, most for burns, with 10 listed in serious condition.

At least five people died trying to escape the flames into the sea.

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So far 715 people have been evacuated, mainly from the area of Mati, according to government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos.

Red Cross spokeswoman Georgia Trisbioti said: 'People are shocked, lost.

The first fire started in the Geraneia mountains near Kineta, prompting three villages to be evacuated.

His government has asked other European countries for helicopters and additional firefighters to help tackle the fires. 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.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted Tuesday that the EU "will spare no effort to help Greece and the Greek people".

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said the priority was to extinguish a fire still burning in Kineta, 50 kilometres from Athens.

"I am really concerned by the parallel outbreak of these fires", Tsipras said as supreme court prosecutors announced they had opened an investigation into the causes of the fire.

The Greek anti-terrorist service was investigating suggestions that the blaze - one of several throughout the Attica region - was started deliberately, a security source said.

Fires are a common problem in Greece during the summer.

Relatives of the couple are expected to arrive in Athens today.

Sweden is experiencing an unprecedented drought and the highest temperatures in a century. The fire brigade has received dozens of calls and has been unable to verify the exact number. Trapped between the sea and the burning forests, Stravrinidis said, people drowned in the water.

But he hinted that so many fires at once needed further scrutiny.


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