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Twin wildfires raging through popular seaside areas near the Greek capital have torched homes, cars and forests and killed at least 49 people, authorities said Tuesday, raising the death toll after rescue crews reported finding the bodies of more than 20 people huddled together near a beach. AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of humans and dogs. An ominous cloud of black-orange smoke hung over the Acropolis hill and the Parthenon temple in Athens on Monday afternoon.

The second wildfire was ravaging mountainous pine forests 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Athens.

Eleven people were seriously injured, he added, while 16 of those injured were children.

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.

There were fears the death toll would rise significantly.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said rescue workers were "still searching if there are more missing".

"It's a national tragedy", civil protection agency official Ioanna Tsoupra told public broadcaster ERT. Monday's fire was one of several that broke out in the country amid a sweltering heat wave.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he was very saddened to hear confirmation of the death of Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp.

The fires started Monday and have since moved quickly to burn land, structures and vehicles.

Residents in the worst-affected areas were forced into the sea to escape the flames.

Evacuees were transferred to hotels and military camps, while anxious relatives flocked to the area.

Police in the town earlier said they found two Danish tourists out of a group of 10 in a boat at sea off the town and were trying to locate the others.

A wall of burned-out cars lines an Athens street
A wall of burned-out cars lines an Athens street

"Today, Greece is in mourning", said Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning.

The Greek coast guard sent boats to the area to evacuate residents trapped on the beach by the flames.

At least three aircraft and a helicopter were battling the flames, along with more than 60 firefighters.

Officials raised the possibility the blazes could have been started deliberately by criminals out to ransack abandoned homes. Blazes in 2007 on the southern island of Evia claimed 77 lives.

Greece sought help in fighting the fires from the European Union.

Sweden is experiencing an unprecedented drought and the highest temperatures in a century.

Winds of above 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in Mati caused a "sudden progression of fire" through the village, said Maliri.

His government has asked other European countries for helicopters and additional firefighters to help tackle the fires.

In the Netherlands, a wildfire broke out over about four hectares Tuesday in the central nature reserve of Hoge Velume, known for its red deer and wild boar, Dutch media said but was swiftly brought under control.

Meanwhile, in Finland's northernmost Lapland province, fires have ravaged woods and grassland close to the border with Russian Federation.

Norway, which this year experienced its hottest May temperatures on record, has also seen several small fires, and one firefighter was killed on July 15 trying to contain a blaze.

Around 79 people have died in the forest fires which have raged through Greek villages and holiday resorts.

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