Funerals begin for Greece's wildfire victims


Funerals for the victims tragically lost in Attica's wildfires have begun in Greece, with hundreds of people paying their respects, including Father Spyridon Papapostolou's funeral in his parish of Halandri, in the northern suburb of Athens.

Father Spyridon Papapostolou, his wife, and daughter were amongst hundreds of people who entered the water off the coast of Mati during the fast-moving fires to protect themselves, but unfortunately, Father Spyridon passed out and drowned.

Bishop Kyrillos at the service stated that the community was grieving the simultaneous loss of family, neighbours, and friends. “There's fewer of us now than usual. It is the victims of the recent fire that are missing friends, relatives, and acquaintances, next-door people that we saw every day in town and on the beach."

Father Spyridon Papapostolou's niece, Ifigenia Christodoulou told the Associated Press “Father Spyridon was certainly ready for this trip, but not in this way, he didn't deserve it. I hope that he prays for all us from up there, just as he has done all these years.”

"What words of comfort can you offer the person who has lost their father, their mother, the grandparents in whose arms their grandchildren were found? What words of solace can you offer a mother who has lost her baby and left a few flowers on the beach?” Bishop Kyrillos also said.

Greek authorities have stated they believe the wildfires which have to date killed 91 people, resulted from arson, with the aid of winds up to 100km an hour, making it rapid and deadly.

Nikos Toskas, Citizens’ Protection Minister said that fire crews did all they could to save as many lives as possible, but that inadequate town planning and an alleged lack of adequate preparation for fire season made it difficult for fire crews to do their job. It has also been noted that half of the buildings in Mati were constructed without permits which blocked help and a passage to flee from the approaching fires, with some beaches also fenced off, blocking people escaping to the waters from the flames. Mr. Toskas stated that the government's priority now is to take measures so that something like this never happens again.

Volunteer divers, some who are retired Navy Seals, searched the sea on Sunday to look for the bodies of more possible victims, but the search was abandoned due to the sudden storm that swept Greece.

*Source and images: Associated Press