Mahmoud al-Sayed Mousa was relaxing on his couch when his phone rang at 6:30pm on July 23, from his boss who told him to “come quickly” as wildfires started burning the coastal village of Mati, where people desperately tried to escape to the sea.
“We heard that 150 people were trapped between the fire and the sea…If we entered the smoke, we could die. If we didn’t enter, the people wouldn’t be saved”.
Mahmoud filmed the ordeal on his mobile and also posted videos on his Facebook, saying “We are going to save the people fleeing the fire…We either bring them back with us or we die with them, God willing.”
In his 30 years in Greece, he said he has never witnessed anything as frightening as the wildfires. Mahmoud remembers “we scooped them up like when we’re fishing…people were crying and shaking while they hugged us.”
The efforts of rescue teams, the coastguard, and others resulted in more than 700 people being saved. Although rattled by the tragedy, Mahmoud said “I’m happy I was part of the reason those people were saved … It was our duty to help.”