GR US

SYRIZA Knew of Deaths During 2018 Wildfires, Fire Service Talk Showed

Ευρωκίνηση

Photo from the disaster of Mati, one year later. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS - Radio conversations between Fire Service officials and firemen as July 2018 fires raged northeast of Athens, killing 102 people, reveal that the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA knew there were fatalities, which it had denied.

A case file compiled by judicial authorities indicate the government of then-Premier Alexis Tsipras knew there were casualties before holding a meeting at the Civil Protection Agency's operation center, said Kathimerini.

His government had no disaster response plan and has been accused of the families of victims of negligence in failing to have agencies direct firefighters and aircraft to battle the conflagration that nearly destroyed the seaside village of Mati.

Tsipras' government said it didn't know that people were dying although one of the transcripts said that a firefighter told his superiors that at least three had been killed in the early stages and that the civil protection officials were told that.

Former citizens’ protection minister Nikos Toskas, who was present at the July 23, 2018 meeting had said he didn't tell Tsipras of the deaths because the “information was still vague.” 

He didn't explain, however, why there wasn't a faster response to the fire that was raging out of control through huge areas of land as media reports indicated it was a wildfire spreading quickly.

Tsipras said he took only “political responsibility” - not blame - and there hasn't been any explanation why he didn't direct the Greek Coast Guard or Navy to pick up survivors and people in the water around Mati.

Lawsuits have been filed by families who lost loved ones, the tragedy seen around the world, including 26 people found huddled together on a seaside cliff in Mati who perished.

A number of former SYRIZA officials are facing questioning for their role in not directing a response but no one has been prosecuted, which happens often in Greece, and no word whether any of the cases are progressing, almost three years later.