Greek firefighters blame government | Innovation Tech
GREEK firefighters have blamed the government for contributing to the unnecessarily high death toll from what is now being described as Europe’s worst bushfires.
As firefighters and rescue workers comb the coastline for more bodies, the current death toll stands at 88 people who have lost their lives in Greece’s worst bushfires.
In the wake of the disaster, the head of the fire service union has spoekn out against the government accusing it of many small blunders that led to a conflagration of tragic proportions.
“The government might be saying there were no grave operational mistakes, but what it isn’t saying is that there were thousands of small mistakes,” Dimitris Stathopoulos, head of the 12,500-strong Federation of Firefighters, told the Observer.
“All those mistakes make the big mistake and that is why we had such an unprecedented number of deaths.”
Those mistakes include such things as poor long-term town planning that led to overdevelopment of coastal forested areas, to no warning predicting gale-force winds issued by the local meteorological service, to no understanding of the scale of the natural disaster from the government officials extending to the Greek prime minister.
Fanning the flames of public outrage is the fact that many of those who died were women, children, and the elderly.
On Saturday, a woman died in hospital taking the death toll to 88. The unnamed woman in her 40s had been in hospital since fire ravaged the seaside village of Mati, east of the capital Athens, on Monday.
The Health Ministry said a dozen other people remained in hospital with serious injuries.
Forensics experts have faced a difficult task trying to identify the bodies of those who perished, many completely charred.
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A private detective employed by one family which lost three children and their grandparents told reporters on Friday night that their nine year-old twins Sophia and Vassiliki had been identified.
They were found wrapped in the embrace of their grandparents among 26 bodies outside a villa near the sea at Mati.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday he assumed “political responsibility” for the tragedy as a bitter debate raged over who was to blame.
The opposition earlier accused the government of refusing to take responsibility after it said arson was suspected.
Officials citing information from satellite maps have said that 13 fires broke out on Monday at the same time across the Attica region.
At a cabinet meeting broadcast live, Mr Tsipras said he wanted “to assume completely before the great Greek people the political responsibility for this tragedy”.
“I believe that is what the prime minister and the government should do,” he added.
The government has come in for strong criticism over its response to the disaster despite a 40-million-euro relief fund.
Experts have said that a mix of poor urban planning, including a lack of proper access routes and the construction of too many buildings next to combustible forest areas, contributed to what were Europe’s worst bushfires this century.
The fires struck coastal villages popular with holiday-makers and burned with such ferocity that most people fled to the safety of the sea with just the clothes on their backs.