A man passes burned cars in Mati, east of Athens, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Gale-fanned wildfires raged through holiday resorts near Greece's capital, killing at least 24 people by early Tuesday and injuring more than 100, including 11 in serious condition, in the country's deadliest fire season in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The Latest: Greek leader declares 3 days of mourning

July 24, 2018 - 6:18 am

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on wildfires raging in Greece (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning for dozens of people killed by wildfires that swept through seaside areas near Athens.

The official death toll Tuesday from the deadly fires that broke out Monday stood at 50. There were fears the toll could rise as rescue crews searched through the charred remains of houses, while the coast guard scoured the seas. Many people fled to beaches, with some swimming out to sea to escape the choking smoke. More than 700 people were evacuated from beaches.

"Today Greece is mourning, and in memory of those who were lost, we are declaring a three-day period of mourning," Tsipras said. "But we mustn't let mourning overwhelm us, because these hours are hours of battle, unity, courage and above all solidarity."

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12:45 p.m.

Turkey has offered to send firefighting aircraft to neighboring Greece after twin wildfires tore through areas near Athens.

Speaking in Northern Cyprus Tuesday, Turkey's foreign minister said Turkish airplanes and helicopters are on standby to aid Greece. Mevlut Cavusoglu said his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias thanked him for the offer but said assistance was not currently needed.

Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkey's agriculture and forestry minister, in Ankara said the planes are "45 minutes away if there is a request and we are ready to intervene immediately."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also expressed his condolences and said his country was ready to help.

At least 50 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the fires.

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10:35 a.m.

The Spanish government says it has sent two amphibious planes to help fight the twin forest fires in seaside areas of Greece that have killed nearly 50 people and injured more than 100.

Greece sought international help through the European Union as fires on either side of Athens left lines of cars torched, charred farms and forests, and sent hundreds of people racing to beaches to be evacuated by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats.

Spain's Ministry of Agriculture says that each of the two Canadair-type planes dispatched early Tuesday can hoard 5.5 tons of water and they are piloted by members of the country's air force.

The ministry says in a statement that the decision to dispatch the planes was made only after an assessment of Spain's own need for them.

The country is also prone to destructive wildfires every year, when dry and hot summers can be met with strong winds that quickly spread the flames.

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10:05 a.m.

Greece's fire department says 49 people are confirmed to have died in forest fires that have swept through popular seaside holiday areas near the Greek capital.

Fire department spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri added that 156 adults and 16 children have been hospitalized with injuries. Eleven of the adults are in serious condition.

Malliri said Tuesday that strong winds have fanned the flames, with the fires spreading rapidly into inhabited areas, preventing people who are in their homes or in their cars from managing to flee.

Greece has requested firefighting help from the European Union, and Malliri said a military transport plane is arriving with 60 firefighters from Cyprus, while two water-dropping planes are expected from Spain.

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8:45 a.m.

Twin wildfires fanned by gale force winds tore through holiday resorts near Greece's capital, killing at least 24 people by early Tuesday and injuring more than 100, including 11 in serious condition, in the country's deadliest fire season in more than a decade.

There were fears the death toll would rise significantly. Rescue crews working through the charred areas of where the fire had passed through to the northeast of Athens told local media that at first light, they had found the bodies of more than 20 people gathered in one place near a beach.

Greek health authorities could not immediately confirm the increase in the death toll as the bodies had not yet reached hospitals.

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