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International: Greece – Fire victims receive help

September 2018

Greek people left homeless and injured after wildfires ravaged suburbs around Athens have received help and counselling from UK-based rapid response Team chaplains, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In July, the volunteers were deployed to the resort town of Mati to share hope in crisis alongside the local church community. The wildfires, the worst to hit the region since 2007, have devastated entire villages close to Athens. The death toll is now more than 80, with some families found to have been burned alive, as the 70mph+ winds drove the fire rapidly through communities, blocking any escape route.

Greek authorities are reporting that at least 1,500 homes have been destroyed or damaged by the fire, just weeks before the peak tourist season.The current European heatwave has led to ‘tinderbox’ conditions, with temperatures regularly in excess of 40C. Firefighters are also battling blazes in Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Latvia. With many dead and hundreds more missing, the Chaplains, trained to give emotional and spiritual care in the aftermath of a disaster, will comfort those in need.

Franklin Graham founded the rapid response team in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and the chaplains have since been deployed following disasters worldwide. Chaplains from the UK have been deployed across Europe, responding to terrorist attacks in Brussels, Munich, Paris, London and Manchester, as well as disasters such as 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire.