Greece is in shock as it starts to mop up and accept worldwide offers of help after the deadly wildfires that killed at least 74 people.
Described as a “tragedy” for Australia’s large Greek population, state and federal governments have offered assistance, with the ABC’s European correspondent James Glenday saying the fires will leave a scar on communities that will last a generation.
Treasurer Scott Morrison says the Australian government will provide whatever support is appropriate.
“(We are) a country that is very familiar with the heartbreak and tragedy of fires,” Mr Morrison said in Sydney on Wednesday.
“And as a country that also has one of the largest expatriate populations of Greek nationals of anywhere around the world, we deeply empathise with those who are caught up in these tragic fires in Greece.
There will be many Australians I’m sure who have family members that may be affected.”
Melbourne has Australia’s largest Greek population and Victorian Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said the state had contacted Greek authorities.
“We stand ready to provide any assistance, whether that’s in regards to the emergency or in recovery,” Mr Merlino said on Wednesday.
“These are shocking, tragic fires in Greece.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said it appeared there may be no need for Australian firefighters in Greece.
But he hoped Victoria’s sadly gained expertise in identifying bushfire victims may be useful to Greek authorities.
“Our hearts are breaking for the terrible tragedy in Greece,” Mr Andrews said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed “so far” no Australians were caught up in the blaze that swept through the coastal town of Mati, east of Athens, on Monday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning in response to the growing disaster amid fears the death toll could rise further.
Fuelled by 80 kilometre per hour winds, the fires left scores of gutted cars lining streets in Mati, melted by the intensity of the heat.
Bodies lay on roadsides, and in one area, a group of 26 people were found dead – some locked in an embrace as the flames closed in.
The group, which included children, was found near the top of a cliff overlooking a beach.
They had ended up there after apparently searching for an escape route.
“Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced,” the head of Greece’s Red Cross, Nikos Economopoulos, told Skai TV.
The lucky ones were able to leap off the cliffs to survive, or rush into the sea from the beach.
“We went into the sea because the flames were chasing us all the way to the water,” said Kostas Laganos, a middle-aged survivor.
“It burned our backs and we dived into the water.”
-with AAP, ABC