Wildfires in Greece Kill At Least 49

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Greek fires Survivors confront defence minister over response

The bodies were entwined and severely burnt, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Smoke from the blazes blotted out the sun over the famed Parthenon temple in Athens, where some ministries closed Monday afternoon due to the soaring heat.

A house burns as a wildfire rages through the village of Mati, near Athens. He and his wife grabbed what they could from their home and ran.

Fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri said firefighters were still searching for more victims and taking "dozens of calls" from people looking for relatives, she said.

"It's a national tragedy", civil protection agency official Ioanna Tsoupra told public broadcaster ERT.

Several other northern European countries are also struggling to contain forest fires.

Authorities were trying to evacuate inhabitants, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.

In all, 47 brush and forest fires broke out across Greece on Monday and early Tuesday, with majority quickly extinguished, the fire department said.

Nine coastal patrol boats, two military vessels and "dozens of private boats" assisted by army helicopters were mobilised to help those stuck in the harbour in Rafina, one of the worst affected areas close to Mati.

Evacuees were transferred to hotels and military camps, while anxious relatives flocked to the area.

They were huddled together in small groups, "perhaps families, friends or strangers, entwined in a last attempt to protect themselves as they tried to reach the sea", he said.

"Today, Greece is in mourning", said Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning.

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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.

"We are doing everything humanly possible to try and tackle these fires", Tsipras said.

Firefighters stand on a cliff top where burned trees hug the coastline in Mati east of Athens, Tuesday, July 24, 2018.

Video footage showed people fleeing by vehicle as the tourist-friendly Attica region declared a state of emergency.

Near the town of Marathon, residents fled to safety along the beach, while 600 children were evacuated from holiday camps.

At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with more than 60 firefighters.

At least 74 people are believed to have died and 1000 homes destroyed in the fires which officials believe may have been started deliberately.

Greece has had a dry and hot summer. Blazes in 2007 on the southern island of Evia claimed 77 lives.

In the Netherlands, a wildfire broke out over about four hectares Tuesday in the central nature reserve of Hoge Velume, known for its red deer and wild boar, Dutch media said but was swiftly brought under control.

There has been practically no rain since the beginning of May in the Nordic country, aside from a paltry 13 millimetres (half an inch) in mid-June.

Meanwhile, in Finland's northernmost Lapland province, fires have ravaged woods and grassland close to the border with Russian Federation.

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