Residents of Burned Mati Say Tsipras Reneged on Rebuilding Help

December 30, 2018

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who visited their burned-down seaside village, broke his work to help them rebuild after a July 23 wildfire that killed 100 people, 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.

Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou, widely criticized for her response to the wildfires, and one of a number of officials being called to testify, in November  said she was blameless.

In a written statement to prosecutors investigating the conflagration and why the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition didn’t have evacuation orders or a disaster response plan, Dourou said while the area was under her jurisdiction that she’s not responsible for the chaotic response or the loss of life.

The regional authority, she said in her statement, is not responsible for “putting out fires or carrying out evacuations without the recommendation of the Fire Service,” without saying what her responsibility is then.

In what was said to be a lengthy statement given to investigators by her lawyer, she said that firefighting is not under local government but that her office is only to provide logistical support if asked for it.

A number of lawsuits were brought by the relatives of those who died and who are charging negligence as the government didn’t have a disaster or evacuation plan and didn’t alert people in Mati to flee as the flames roared down a hill toward them. Officials could face charges including manslaughter, arson and exposure to danger, said the paper.


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