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'Don't ever let my children forget me': What British mother in a goodbye phone call to her family as she dived into the sea to escape the Greek fires... before miraculously surviving

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© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Miss Degge's mother Jenny Dimitrijevic’s holiday home was spared, as was her life

By Khaleda Rahman, Daily Mail

Clinging to a rock in the sea as wildfires raged onshore, Jaimie-Marie Degge made what she thought would be her final phone call to her family.

The 30-year-old Briton dialed her father who was looking after her two young daughters back in London.

'I just wanted to speak to him and tell him to make sure my daughters would remember me,' she said.

'I said 'Dad, please make sure my children are brought up together. Make sure they love each other like I love them. Don't ever let them forget me. Make sure they know I love them'.'

Miss Degge, from West London, was on a break with her mother, Jenny Dimitrijevic, 50, when they had to flee fires surrounding their holiday home in Mati, Greece.

[post_ads]She said: 'I was screaming and crying, saying 'Dad, I'm not going to make it out of here, there's no way out, you don't understand'. I didn't think I was going to see my children ever again. It was awful.'

Miss Degge's life was saved by a boat that carried her to safety. In another piece of luck her mother's property escaped the flames – the only one in the street to do so.

The authorities raised the death toll to 85 yesterday and there were angry scenes when defence minister Panos Kammenos arrived in Mati, near Athens. Residents could be heard telling him: 'You let us burn. You left us to the mercy of God.'

Nikos Toskas, citizen protection minister, said last night there were 'serious indications' that arson caused the wildfires.

Miss Degge said she and her mother knew of the approach of the fires when ash started to fall. 'My uncle got on a bike and raced up to the top to see where the fire was,' she said. 'When he came back he was screaming 'We need to go, quickly, get to the beach'.

'We started to panic and just grabbed our passports, threw them in a bag and got in the car.

'We drove 30 seconds and we saw a house on fire just a couple of doors away from ours. There were people grabbing the car, trying to get in. I was screaming at my mum 'Just go, just go'. It was so dark because of the smoke. Cars were just crashing into each other because of the panic.'

Her mother, who is a web designer, added: 'All of a sudden there were huge, bright, brilliant scorching red flames going into the air. All the trees just went up.

'When I saw it, and felt the heat, I drove straight for the sea. The fire was coming from behind us as we drove, it was literally following us down the road and was coming up from the sides too.'

Miss Degge, a pub supervisor, and her mother were forced to abandon their car due to the flames. The pair managed to reach the beach where almost 700 people were awaiting help. 'Everyone was just screaming,' said Miss Degge. 'The terror we could hear was just something else.

'I've never heard anything like that before. There were people screaming everywhere in the sea.'

Her mother added: 'It was like Titanic in the sea, there were so many people.'
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Seeking refuge the pair entered the sea, with the water quickly coming up to their necks. Miss Degge said: 'Every time I close my eyes I hear the screams of the people, the helicopter overhead and the fire. People were holding their dogs and babies above their heads. We were just waiting in the water trying to cover our faces.

'My face was so sore from the saltwater, heat and smoke.'

They were rescued eight hours after entering the water.

Mr Kammenos claimed that illegal construction contributed to the worst wildfires the country has seen in more than a decade. He claimed unlicensed homes had blocked escape routes.

Search volunteer Argiro Mandritsa, 55, said: 'We are looking for a large number of missing persons. It seems as if there are may be over 100.'

Anguished relatives have begun submitting their DNA to help authorities identify burned corpses already recovered.

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World - U.S. Daily News: 'Don't ever let my children forget me': What British mother in a goodbye phone call to her family as she dived into the sea to escape the Greek fires... before miraculously surviving
'Don't ever let my children forget me': What British mother in a goodbye phone call to her family as she dived into the sea to escape the Greek fires... before miraculously surviving
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