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Terrifying Photos Of The Wildfires That Have Killed More Than 80 People Outside Athens

"Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.

Last updated on July 25, 2018, at 5:49 p.m. ET

Posted on July 23, 2018, at 10:12 p.m. ET

The sky over the Parthenon temple turned orange with smoke on Monday.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

The sky over the Parthenon temple turned orange with smoke on Monday.

Wildfires that ignited Monday near Athens have killed at least 81 people, according to Greek fire services, as hundreds of firefighters and first responders struggled to contain the blazes and evacuate residents.

At least 164 adults and 23 children were injured in the blazes, the fire brigade said in a statement Tuesday evening, and 71 people remain in the hospital.

"The Fire Brigade expresses its sorrow for the loss of our fellow human beings and its full sympathy for the victims," the statement read.

The Greek government declared a state of emergency and asked the European Union for aid, while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced three days of mourning.

The fires broke out on both sides of Athens, in the pine forests to the west of the city and in coastal towns to the northeast. By early Monday evening, the skies over the Parthenon had turned orange from the smoke.

Emergency services recorded 47 separate fires over 24 hours, according to a statement released Tuesday morning.

It's not yet clear what caused the fires, but a dry winter has left much of the area vulnerable, and strong winds Monday have fanned the flames.

The voluminous smoke prompted the closure of a major highway, and officials urged immediate evacuation of affected areas.

“People should leave, close up their homes and just leave. People cannot tolerate so much smoke for so many hours,” Senior Fire Chief Achilleas Tzouvaras said, according to Reuters. “This is an extreme situation.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras returned early from a trip to Bosnia to preside over the government's response to the emergency.

“It's a difficult night for Greece,” Tsipras said as fires continued to rage into the night Monday.

Announcing a period of national mourning on television the following day, he said Greece is going through an "unspeakable tragedy."

A firefighting helicopter flies over a wildfire raging in the town of Rafina near Athens Monday.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

A firefighting helicopter flies over a wildfire raging in the town of Rafina near Athens Monday.

A firefighter tries to extinguish hotspots in Kineta, near Athens.
Valerie Gache / AFP / Getty Images

A firefighter tries to extinguish hotspots in Kineta, near Athens.

A firefighter stands in front of a burning house during a wildfire in Kineta.
Valerie Gache / AFP / Getty Images

A firefighter stands in front of a burning house during a wildfire in Kineta.

A firefighter works near a burning house in Kineta.
Valerie Gache / AFP / Getty Images

A firefighter works near a burning house in Kineta.


A man walks his dogs as smoke billows into the sky during a wildfire in Kineta.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

A man walks his dogs as smoke billows into the sky during a wildfire in Kineta.


A burning house in Kineta.
Valerie Gache / AFP / Getty Images

A burning house in Kineta.

A house burns in the village of Mati, near Athens.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

A house burns in the village of Mati, near Athens.


Traffic is blocked at the closed National Road during a wildfire in Kineta, near Athens, on Monday.
Valerie Gache / AFP / Getty Images

Traffic is blocked at the closed National Road during a wildfire in Kineta, near Athens, on Monday.

Emergency response vehicles on the highway near Kineta.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

Emergency response vehicles on the highway near Kineta.

A woman walks in front of burnt cars at the village of Mati.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

A woman walks in front of burnt cars at the village of Mati.

Rescue workers and volunteers help local people evacuate the village of Mati.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

Rescue workers and volunteers help local people evacuate the village of Mati.

A man holds his son as a wildfire burns in the coastal town of Rafina.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

A man holds his son as a wildfire burns in the coastal town of Rafina.

Flames rise over Rafina as a wildfire burns through the coastal town outside Athens.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

Flames rise over Rafina as a wildfire burns through the coastal town outside Athens.

CORRECTION

The total number of missing people has not yet been confirmed. An earlier version of this article misquoted the figure.


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