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The Latest: Macedonia: Probe begun of anti-Greek hate speech

July 25, 2018
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A man stands next to his burned house and car as he speaks on his cellphone in Mati, east of Athens, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Rescue crews were searching through charred homes and cars for the missing after wildfires decimated seaside areas near the Greek capital, killing at least 74 people and sending thousands fleeing. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on deadly wildfires in Greece (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Prosecutors in Macedonia are investigating social media posts and comments that used racist and xenophobic language in discussing the wildfires in Greece that have killed dozens of people.

The Public Prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that it is gathering evidence, working to identify possible suspects and evaluating if the articles and comments violate Macedonian law.

Since the fires swept through communities near Athens on Monday, social networks in Macedonia have been flooded with messages of support and appeals to provide help, but also with hateful comments and insults.

Macedonia and neighboring Greece have been at odds for almost three decades over the smaller countries use of the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a Greek province where Alexander the Great was born.

Nationalists in both countries oppose a recent deal that would change Macedonia’s name to North Macedonia.

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1:10 p.m.

Romania’s defense ministry says it has sent two planes and personnel to aid firefighting efforts in Greece.

The ministry said it had dispatched a C-27J Spartan firefighter and a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft Wednesday to help with logistical support.

A team of 20 defense ministry officials will work with Greek emergency crews.

Greece’s fire department says the death toll from wildfires near Athens stands at least 79.

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11 a.m.

Greece’s fire department says the death toll from wildfires that decimated seaside communities near Athens has increased to 79.

Spokeswoman Stavroula Malliri said Wednesday that rescue crews continue to search the areas northeast of Athens that were the worst affected by the fire. Crews have been going house-to-house and searching burned cars and the scorched coastline to locate any further victims.

Malliri said authorities have received dozens of calls for missing people, adding that some of those reported as missing could be among the dead, or might have already returned to their families without authorities having been informed.

There was no official number released as to how many people might be missing. Some people have taken to social media and Greek television stations with appeals for information on their loved ones.

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9:30 a.m.

Rescue crews were searching through charred homes and cars for the missing after wildfires decimated seaside areas near the Greek capital, killing at least 74 people and sending thousands fleeing.

There was no official indication Wednesday as to how many people might be missing, and some people took to social media and Greek television stations with appeals for information on their loved ones. The death toll was expected to increase as crews searched more of the areas affected by the fires.

More than 280 firefighters were still in the area to the northeast of Athens, dousing the remaining flames to prevent flare-ups. Another 200 firefighters were tackling the second forest fire west of Athens, where local authorities pre-emptively evacuated three nearby communities overnight, according to the fire department.

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