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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Greek Villages Surrounded by Wildfires

KRESTENA, Greece -- Desperate Greek villagers encircled by flames appealed for help Monday as strong winds fanned forest fires that have swept the country, killing 63 people in three days.

Thousands have been made homeless, and Greece's worst fires in decades showed no sign of abating, with dozens raging unchecked from the southern tip of the Peloponnesus to the northern town of Ioannina.

"We are burning. ... Please help us. Where are the helicopters?" a hoarse-sounding man repeatedly screamed into his mobile phone from the village of Frixa, trapped in flames.

In a battle to save the ancient site of Olympia from the flames, firefighters managed on Sunday to beat back fires threatening the revered birthplace of the Olympic Games.

The government, facing snap elections Sept. 16, has offered rewards of up to 1 million euros ($1.4 million) for help in tracking down arsonists who it believes have played a major role in the fires.

The government said prosecutors would investigate whether the act of arson could be subject to the same investigation and penalties that terrorism acts carry under the penal code.

Many local mayors have accused rogue land developers of setting fires to make way for new construction on virgin forest and farm land. So far, police have arrested two elderly people and two boys on suspicion of starting fires.

Desperate Greeks trapped by the flames contacted television networks for help, with their frantic appeals broadcast live.

"We have been left at the mercy of God. We have no water or electricity. We have been fighting the fires with tractors and branches," a woman from the Nemouta village in the Peloponnesus told Antenna television.

Greece has declared a nationwide emergency and sought help from its European Union partners to contain the fires.