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Athens is calling for worldwide aid after the death toll from a series of fires sweeping Greece climbed to 74 on Tuesday with a Red Cross official reporting the discovery of 26 more bodies at a seaside resort.

The forest fires raged near the capital of Athens, burning homes and injuring more than 150 people, according to Agence France-Presse.

The first fire broke out in a pine forest near the seaside settlement of Kineta 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Athens between the capital and Corinth.

Before news of the grim discovery, the official death toll stood at 24.

Malliri says three hospitals in greater Athens have been placed on alert to receive more casualties if needed. Another 23 children have been treated by medics and 11 of them were hospitalized.

A search and rescue operation is underway for them. The fires are a "national tragedy" and a "biblical disaster with human losses", Greek Interior Minister Panos Skourletis told Sky News.

The fires hit during the middle of a heat wave in Greece, where the temperature Monday reached 99 degrees for the second consecutive day.

"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.

Smoke fills the sky as members of the emergency services block a road near Kineta, west of Athens, Monday, July 23, 2018.

Forest fires: Greece declares state of emergency, asks for international aid
Wildfires in Greece Kill At Least 49

With the flames whipped up by gale-force winds that frequently changed direction, many tourists and residents fled toward the coastline.

The fire brigade brought the blaze quickly under control. "The wind was indescribable, it was incredible".

"What upsets me and what I will carry in my heart is that it is bad to see the person next to you drowning and not be able to help him. I said my God, we must run to save ourselves". "We fell into the sea and tried to distance ourselves, to get away from the carbon dioxide".

The country is awaiting 60 firefighters from Cyprus and two water-bombing planes from Spain, the fire department's spokeswoman said. The coast guard said 19 people were rescued at sea, some of whom had swum out to escape the flames. "We had to swim out because of the smoke, but we couldn't see where anything was", he said. It has counted more than 20 fires across the country.

"I'm grateful to all of them", he said. Israel, Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Germany also offered assistance. Mevlut Cavusoglu said his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias thanked him for the offer but said assistance was not now needed.

The severely burnt bodies were entwined in groups in "a final attempt to protect themselves", said rescuer Vassilis Andriopoulos. Scenes of devastation and death were reported throughout the region.

Twenty-six bodies were found at a seaside resort villa in the village of Mati, along the Argyros Coast, on Tuesday.

Fueled by record high temperatures, wildfires are wreaking havoc around the world this summer, with 27 active fires in Sweden killing at least one person.

President Michael D Higgins said that he wrote to the country's president and expressed his condolences as well solidarity with Greece on behalf of the Irish people.

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