With some 344 deaths annually from drowning at sea, not including pools, Greece ranks ninth in the European Union per population, a problem Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants to see reversed to also further promote tourism.
Speaking to an event on safety at sea, he noted that the drowning deaths are almost double those from the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic this year although Greece is a maritime country with world renowned beaches and a swimming culture.
The event was organized by nonprofit Safe Water Sports, which promotes educational activities particularly for children to enhance awareness of safety at sea.
“The state is obliged to upgrade the current institutional framework, and will do so. We must treat the sea with respect and the same must be done by businesses related to the sea. Safe seas means upgraded tourist product for Greece,” he said, reported Kathimerini.
Shipping & Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis said that the government has designed a comprehensive program to deal with drownings at sea for prevention, safety and control, and includes an awareness campaign for the elderly as well.
Speaking of his organization, founder Panagiotis Paschalakis said he lost his son Michael, 10, during water sports with friends in 2014 and began the nonprofit in 2015, when there was no system for informing children and young people of safety measures at sea.
With the help of private funding, the organization has also created videos and brochures for retirement homes. In terms of statistics for 2017-2019, he said that every year 344 people on average drown at sea. Of these, 79 pct are over 60 years old.
Safe Water Sports have also developed and gifted to the Port Police an information system that includes a record of deaths by drowning since 2017 and allows the police to enter violations of safety directly into a tablet linked to the system, which also provides other managerial options for safety at sea, the report added.
On its site, Safe Water sports said that drowning in Greece is considered the second leading cause of accidental death for children 1-14 years of age.
In August, 2019, two French sisters aged 17 and 20 drowned in a hotel pool in Rhodes , and an 8-year-old girl drowned in a hotel pool in Crete, police officials said.