Mati, One Year On

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Mati, One Year On

Photographer: Yannis Kolesidis

 

The photojournalist holds a picture he has taken a year ago showing a woman walking in front of burned cars following the deadly forest fire in Mati on 24 July 2018, as a man walks with his bicycle on a street at the same point a year later, in the coastal village of Mati, northeast of Athens, Greece, 19 July 2019. One year after the deadly fire, Mati remains a ghost village. Many of the people who once lived or made their summer holidays have left it permanently. The remains of the houses that still stand, testify that once there was life in them. EPA-EFE/YANNIS KOLESIDIS The worst wildfire to hit Greece in over a decade tore through a small holiday resort village near Athens on the afternoon of Monday, 23 July 2018, killing 102 people, injuring almost 200 others and forcing hundreds more to rush on to beaches and into the sea as the blaze devoured houses and cars. 

Huge, fast-moving flames, propelled by winds of up to 77mph (124km/h), trapped families with children as they tried to flee from the popular seaside spot of Mati village, 18 miles (29km) east of the Greek capital. 

Among the dead were 26 people whose bodies were found huddled tightly together close to the beach. It is believed they were trapped while trying to escape to the sea. 

The coastal village was almost entirely obliterated by the blaze. More than 1,000 houses and over 300 cars were destroyed. 

One year after the deadly fire, Mati remains a ghost village. Many of the people who once lived or made their summer holidays have left it permanently. 

The remains of the houses that are still standing bear witness that once there was life in them. The town has been reduced to burned homes and courtyards with black charred trees in between the streets that cross it. 

The only consolation and hope are the beaches, where some residents and tourists are tempted to swim and enjoy the sun and the sea, reminding them some of the activities people used to enjoy before the fire destroyed their home.