Desperate families search for the missing as Greek police open investigation into 'mega-fire' which killed at least 79 amid row over 'slow response' and claims arsonists were trying to 'destabilize the country'
Greek prosecutors have opened an investigation into the cause of devastating forest fires across Greece
Officials originally suggested arsonists may started fires near Athens as part of moves to 'destabilize Greece'
But others say sparks from pylons caused the disaster while authorities have been accused of a slow response
Flames ripped through resort of Mati leaving dozens dead while appeals have been made for missing people
Nine-year-old twins and an Irish newlywed among those missing as search of charred houses gets underway
By JULIAN ROBINSON and PAUL THOMPSON IN ATHENS FOR MAILONLINE and AFP
PUBLISHED: 08:44 BST, 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:32 BST, 25 July 2018
Greek prosecutors have opened an investigation into the cause of devastating forest fires which swept through communities 'like a flamethrower' leaving at least 79 dead.
Officials suggested early on that arson may have been to blame for the deadly infernos as it emerged 15 fires started simultaneously in the Athens area as part of moves to 'destabilise the country'.
But others have dismissed the theory amid claims sparks from pylons caused the disaster. Shell-shocked authorities have also been accused of a slow response to the gale-driven fires, which laid waste to an entire village in a matter of minutes.
Dozens are still missing - including nine-year-old twin girls and an Irish newlywed - as emergency crews started the grim job of sifting through the charred remains of hundreds of homes and cars in fire-hit areas. Desperate family members have taken to social media to post pictures of their loved-ones - but ambulance officials have said there is little hope of finding anyone alive in burnt out buildings.
Many of the dead were found in the resort of Mati, 25 miles east of the capital, where horrified rescuers found the burnt remains of families huddled together near a cliff. Others died trying the escape in their cars or having failed to leave their homes in time with many reportedly drowned after leaping into the sea.
Emergency crews were stretched to the limit overnight with some 200 firefighters tackling a second forest fire west of Athens, where local authorities preemptively evacuated three nearby communities. The death toll has now surpassed the 77 killed in 2007 on the southern island of Evia.