19:34 GMT +314 November 2019
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    The aftermath of a wildfire is seen in Mati, Greece July 24, 2018 in this photo obtained from social media on July 27, 2018

    'The Heaviest Moment': Greek PM Assumes Responsibility for Deadly Wildfires

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    Earlier, Greek officials announced that they suspected that arsonists had started the massive forest fires that have devastated the region outside the capital Athens and have already killed at least 87 people.

    Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has admitted that he should be held responsible for the ongoing wildfires which rage just 25 kilometers outside Athens, believed to be among the country's deadliest fire outbreaks in living memory.

    "Before the cabinet, and the Greek people, I want to assume full responsibility for the tragedy … I regard this as self-evident for the Prime Minister of a country to do – and I call on you to also assume responsibility, no matter how hard it is," he underscored.

    READ MORE: Greek Police Arrest 4 Suspected Looters Near Athens Amid Wildfires – Reports

    He also acknowledged that the disaster has prompted him to raise questions about what could have done by the Greek government in order to prevent the death toll.

    "This is a difficult moment, perhaps the heaviest in our term in office. The dead cannot talk, but the least we can do in their memory is to show respect for the truth.

    The statement came after Nikos Toskas, Alternate Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, mentioned "significant signs" of arson related to the ongoing massive forest fires in the country.

    READ MORE: 'You Can Feel the Presence of Death': Greek Journalist Describes Wildfires

    "We have serious indications and significant signs suggesting criminal acts of arson," he said, adding that 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, more than 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.


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    More Than 20 Dead in Athens Wildfires, 69 Injured - Greek Government
    wildfires, responsibility, arson, government, Alexis Tsipras, Greece
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