Greek officials suggest that the massive forest fires that devastated the region encompassing Athens, claiming the lives of at least 85 people, had been started intentionally.
"We have serious indications and significant signs suggesting criminal acts of arson," Alternate Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas told a news conference on Thursday.
According to him, satellite images show that the deadly blaze was simultaneously started in a number of places in southern Greece near the capital.
Earlier, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos claimed that the illegal construction of buildings in wooded areas contributed to the high death toll, blocking escape routes and trapping dozens of people.
On Monday afternoon, over 15 wildfires broke out in the Attica region in southern Greece east and west of the capital of Athens, engulfing coastal communities popular among tourists. The town of Mati, located some 30 kilometers east of Athens, was the hardest-hit community, where a group of 26 bodies were found huddled together in a field just 30 meters from the sea.
The death toll has climbed to 85, higher than the number of lives lost in the country's 2007 forest fires, and making this week's disaster the country's deadliest wildfire in decades. At least 187 people were injured, including 23 children. The search for more victims on land and at sea is still underway. Dozens remain missing.