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Sarah, Duchess of York visits Greece and pledges to help victims of the wildfires

Sarah, Duchess of York, has visited Greece this week where she promised to help those who have been affected by wildfires which have claimed the lives of 85 people.

The Duchess met with the Greek tourism minister Elena Kountoura in Athens on Thursday as expressed her sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in the fires.

Taking to Instagram, the 58-year-old said: “In deepest sympathy to all families in the tragedy of the fires in Greece,’ she wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you to Elena Kountoura, the Greek people and services who are working tirelessly in such difficult circumstances.”

The Duchess is a regular visitor to Greece, and often holidays in the country. She has encouraged more people to visit the European country, describing it as a “beautiful” place.

She said: “We are here to help. Greece is a very beautiful country and people must come here and see how beautiful it is.”

Also expressing sympathies to the Greek people this week was the Prince of Wales.

In a statement, he said: “My wife and I wanted you to know how deeply saddened we were to learn of the tragic loss of life following the devastating wildfires in Attica.

“Above all, our hearts go out to all the families who have been so cruelly bereaved, and our deepest sympathy to those who have been injured or whose property has been destroyed.

“Having been with you in Athens only recently, and recalling the joy of our visit and the welcome we received from the Greek people, we can only assure you of our affectionate thoughts and special prayers at such a heartbreaking time.”

The wildfires began on Monday, and the cause, says Nikos Toskas, the Minister of Citizen Protection, could be arson. The cause is still being investigated.

The wildfires have been raging in coastal tourist areas and spreading rapidly due to extreme heat and 120km/h winds.

A separate wildfire broke out in another area close to Athens, though its cause may not be arson-related.

The Queen and Prince Philip also sent a message of support to the Greek President:

“Prince Philip and I offer our deepest sympathies to the people of Greece in the wake of the devastating fires in Attica and across Greece.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims of this terrible tragedy and to all those who have lost their homes.

“I pay tribute to the courage and dedication of the Greek emergency services and the volunteers that have provided support.”

The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, called the wildfires an “unspeakable tragedy” in a televised address and declared three days of mourning for the 85 victims.

Additional reporting by Jess Ilse