Earthquake-Resistant Building Inspections Far Behind in Greece

Αssociated Press

A general view of the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill on the background, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - Although a strong earthquake struck near Greece’s capital in July, 2019, only some 23 percent of 88,000 public buildings in the country have been inspected to see if they can withstand temblors.

That’s some 20 years after inspections of the buildings began, said Kathimerini, a rate which means it would take until 2080 to finish despite Greece being prone to earthquakes that have been deadly.

“The program is running slowly due to red tape and staff shortages,” Constantine Spyrakos, Director of the Laboratory for Earthquake Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), told Sunday's Kathimerini.

He added, however, that most of the 17,000-18,000 buildings that have been inspected lie in quake-prone areas and typically draw larger numbers of visitors and tourists, many of whom ran in near-panic onto the streets of Athens during the 2019 event.

As there have been calls for financial incentives, such as tax breaks, for the seismic upgrading of privately owned properties, along the lines of Italy’s casa sicura (safe house) plan, he said that,. “Priority must be given to those built before 1985,” deemed weakest.

Greece’s modern anti-seismic building regulations were first instituted in 1985, before receiving a serious upgrade in 2000 following the 1999 Athens earthquake that killed 143 people and as there have been regular shakings around the country.