Residents of Greece’s Deadly Fires Area Say Tsipras Promises Broken

FILE - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visits the fire-ravaged seaside village of Mati, July 30, 2018. (Photo by PM's Press Office via Eurokinissi)

Two months before the first anniversary of the July 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 102 people in areas north of Greece’s capital, nearly obliterating the seaside village of Mati, residents complained the government has done little to help or avoid a repeat.

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, whose administration was shown in a TV documentary to have tried to downplay the death toll and hide a chaotic response to the disaster, visited the village twice and said it would be rebuilt.

It hasn’t been – nor has he moved as promised to raze unlawful structures in Attica such as those in Mati blamed for blocking escape routes to the sea – and even protests in Athens haven’t moved him.

While 10 months have gone by since the inferno, inspections of damaged properties have yet to be completed and as a result repairs and restoration works have in many cases yet to start, said Kathimerini, although Tsipras vowed a swift response.

Those properties that have undergone inspections and been deemed unfit for habitation have yet to be demolished due to the usual problem of Greek bureaucracy, leaving standing charred remains of the conflagration while Tsipras is waging a re-election campaign.

With the summer fire season about to begin, the residents and experts said the state is not prepared if another disaster arises and that the countryside is just as vulnerable as it was last year due to more government indifference.