ATHENS – With a number of suits filed over the government’s lagging response to the July 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 100 people in villages north of Greece’s capital, the relatives of one victim said they want 1.45 million euros ($1.65 million) in damages for emotional distress for their loss.
In their lawsuit, the relatives point to “criminal omissions” by the Greek state, the Regional Authority of Attica and the Municipality of Marathon, the areas in which the villages were situated, said Kathimerini.
The victim, a 70-year-old retired university professor whose name has not been disclosed although all had been named previously, was one of seven people to die in the village of Neos Voutzas.
Another 33 people died in nearby Mati and 31 in Kokkino Limanaki. Dozens of burn victims succumbed to their injuries in the months following the blaze, bringing the death toll to 100 as critics said the government had no disaster or evacuation plan and the response was confused and chaotic with police directing traffic into the path of the fire in Mati.
Analysts hired by families of victims and noted researchers also pointed out what they said were critical flaws by the government and area officials, none of whom have been held accountable and as Defense Minister Panos Kammenos went to Mati and blamed the residents for the death toll, saying they had created death traps with unlawful buildings.
Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, tiny, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are junior partners in the coalition headed by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, didn’t send the Greek Navy to help survivors floundering in the seas where they jumped for safety, leaving it to fishermen and private boats to help.
Tsipras, who visited their burned-down seaside village, broke his work to help them rebuild after the deadly fire, a resident’s group in Mati said.
They were upset with lengthy delays in the process that will provide them assistance in repairing or rebuilding homes and businesses consumed by the conflagration, with the death toll blamed on the government not ordering an evacuation nor having a disaster plan in place.
“The prime minister promised a model town. What we appear at risk of having is an nonexistent town,” the group said, reported Kathimerini, calling on the government to push through bills and set a deadline for rebuilding a village that is mostly just charred buildings, scorched land, and blackened trees.
The group also complained of delays in a decision determining the subsidies residents will receive to carry out construction work on their properties, adding that priority should be given to permanent residents.
Tsipras twice visited the village, but not only long after the disaster while Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are SYRIZA’s junior coalition partners, went there and blamed the residents for building unlawful structures that barred routes to the safety of the sea.