ATHENS – For all the horror stories and tragedies in the Greek Wildfires that killed at least 85 people, perhaps the most striking and terrifying was the discovery of 26 bodies, many of them family members and children, found in a death embrace.
They were in a stone house overlooking a cliff too steep and with too many rocks below for them to jump – one young woman did, but didn’t survive the plunge – and with heavy smoke blinding them the victims couldn’t see a set of stairs leading down to the safety of the sea.
It was the coastal villa in Mati owned by the family of Jason Fragos who told ABC News that his family and others were able to get away before the fires came too close but that he didn’t know of the others who were following too far behind.
The flames, he said, came “quickly from all directions” and as people fled, the small road outside the house became clogged. “So, we opened the gates and we led a group of 30 people down the way to the beach — they were rescued,” he said. “I hope they are now all okay,” he added.
But unbeknown to him or his family, the 26 others, including several children, later tried to follow.
They made it through the gate and ended up trapped between burning trees and a cliff.
“They couldn’t find their way … there was no light, there was smoke everywhere and they tried to find refuge in the house, which was totally burnt,” he said.
“Even now they’ve taken the bodies away, the scene is still not nice. The images are heartbreaking.”