Holy Father Pope Francis  expressed his sadness for the many deaths caused by raging wildfires in areas close to the Greek capital, Athens. At least 60 people have perished in the fires in the Attica region around Athens. The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are found in gutted homes.

As reported by Vatican news, In a telegramme addressed to ecclesiastical and civil authorities by Vatican Secretary of State, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin on his behal, the Pontiff said “he extends his heartfelt solidarity to all those affected by this tragedy, commends the deceased to the merciful love of Almighty God”, and offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they continue in their rescue efforts.

The worst-hit area is Mati, a popular seaside town northeast of Athens, which from the air looks like it has been hit by a nuclear bomb.  Early this morning rescue workers came on the charred bodies of 26 people, including women and children, who had been running to the sea to escape the flames but didn’t make it.  They were huddled in a mass, embracing one another. The mass of flame surged without warning down from the wooded hills, fanned by violent westerly winds reaching Force 9 in strength.  At least 130 people have been injured, a dozen of them critically.  Many hundreds of homes are smoking hulks, as well as about 1,000 cars, many of them abandoned in panic by their drivers.  The suddenness and violence of the inferno moved commentators here in Athens to describe the disaster as biblical.