After Wall of Fire, Greece Finds 18 Bodies

They might have been migrants
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 22, 2023 12:20 PM CDT
After Wall of Fire in Greece, 18 Bodies Found in Village
A wildfire in Avantas village, near Alexandroupolis town, in the northeastern Evros region, Greece.   (AP Photo/Achilleas Chiras)

Firefighters found the bodies of 18 people while scouring the area of a major wildfire in northeastern Greece burning out of control for a fourth day Tuesday. Authorities were examining whether the group might have been migrants who entered the country through the nearby border with Turkey, per the AP. The discovery in the Avanta area of the city of Alexandroupolis came as hundreds of firefighters battled dozens of wildfires breaking out across the country, fanned by gale-force winds. Police activated the country's Disaster Victim Identification Team to identify the 18 bodies, which were found near a shack in the Avanta area, said Ioannis Artopios, a spokesman for the fire department.

"Given that there have been no reports of a missing person or missing residents from the surrounding areas, the possibility is being investigated that these are people who had entered the country illegally," Artopios said. Alexandroupolis lies near the country's border with Turkey, along a route often taken by people fleeing poverty and conflict in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and seeking to enter the European Union. Avanta, like many nearby villages and settlements, had been under evacuation orders, with push alerts sent to mobile phones.

Overnight, a massive wall of flames raced through forests toward Alexandroupolis, prompting authorities to evacuate another eight villages and the city's hospital. Flames turned the sky over the city red as choking smoke and swirling flecks of ash filled the air. With their hot, dry summers, southern European countries are particularly prone to wildfires. Another major blaze was burning across Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands for a week, although no injuries or damage to homes was reported.

(More Greece fires stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.